A bittersweet story with two interwoven themes: a crime and mystery involving trafficking and a look at the workings of a polyamorous relationship.
A young Syrian needing treatment at Warbridge Hospital is seen by Phil Roberts, one quarter of a gay polyamorous quad living in north east England. The men in the doctor’s life are ex-cop, Mike Angells, gallery proprietor, Ross Whitmore and ceramist and artist, Raith Balan.
Phil is troubled. Is his patient in the UK legally? Who has caused his injuries? Is trafficking involved? As the foursome struggle to find out, hampered by the fact that Mike is no longer a detective, cracks begin to appear in their relationship. Can four men be equals? Is their lifestyle viable? Meanwhile, there are cracks of a different sort to deal with—and the job of doing so seems to fall exclusively on Mike’s broad shoulders.
(Mike is talking about honesty, which, together with openness, love and passion, guide the quad’s approach to life. His little ‘asides’ feature at the end of the chapters.)
You could say that there are the big honesties, and there are the little honesties as well. The little ones involve the practicalities of livin’ as a foursome. Four blokes together. Shoppin’ to get, meals to cook, washin’ to sort, the loo to clean, the garden to dig, the bills to pay... all the usual family practicalities. But in a poly, we’re equally in charge, equally responsible. Theoretically, that is. One of us seems to think that it’s beneath his dignity to use a mop and that cleanin’ the loo should be left to his minions. He cleans up after himself—I’d shove his bloody head down the toilet bowl if he didn’t—but the proper wash, the one with the detergent and the disinfectant? No way. So, sometimes, we just have to be very honest and tell him he’s a shiter, or rather, Ross and Phil tell him, and I try to look threatenin’. It’s hard, cos I often want to laugh. He comes up with such a load of bollocks for excuses! Then he sulks, or gets in a strop, because he feels we’re gettin’ at him, but we have to. It’s the thin end of the wedge otherwise. He’ll shirk everythin’ if we don’t get tough and lay down the law. That’s what I mean by the little honesties. If sumthin’s wrong, then we have to be upfront about it and say so, even if it causes bad feelin’ for a time.
But I think you probably meant the big honesties. Keepin’ secrets. That sort of thing. Obviously, by their very definition, I don’t know if the others are keepin’ secrets. And yes, I would keep sumthin’ secret if I thought that sharin’ it would place the other guys in danger. In fact, I have done that, and so has Ross. But, to me, that’s not dishonest. Personally, I would never tell the others a lie, a big lie, the kind that’d rock the boat. I might not tell the whole truth, but I would never tell an untruth, if that makes sense. I think our quad’d crumble if we weren’t honest with each other. If there isn’t trust... There has to be trust.
I write about gay polyamorous men, but I’m a monogamous female. I’m also asexual. I have no problem imagining the lives of my four men, though, as long as there’s no me (or any other female) in the scene. The term for this dissociation is anegosexual, I think.
I have a lot of hobbies, which is just as well as I spend a lot of time with my imagination and I need to be metaphorically tied down to the real world. I dance, I sing, I play the guitar (the last two, badly), I love geology and I’m interested in languages, and, of course, I love to write.