Caught and Bowled: My Take on ‘Bedrooms and Hallways’

I was disappointed in the gay romcom ‘Bedrooms and Hallways’ so I decided to try my hand at writing a version I would enjoy.

 

In an earlier article (see Sexual Politics v. Artistic Integrity) I expressed my disappointment in the British gay romcom Bedrooms and Hallways. However, while I thought its last act was confused and unsatisfying, for the most part, I liked the film. It stayed with me, and I found myself rewriting it in my head to my own satisfaction until I finally had to put it down on paper.

Now, you could throw my own phrase back at me and say I’ve turned it into ‘just another romcom’. That may well be the case, but a romcom is supposed to leave you with a smile on your face, not a perplexed frown, and my version makes me smile.

 

Caught and Bowled: a film treatment

Time: Present and Mid-1990s

Place: Melbourne, Australia

Main Characters:

Kevin – late 20s, cabinet/furniture maker, boyish good looks, demeanour and style of a typical Australian tradesman though a little more restrained

James – mid 30s, designer, dark and handsome, reserved elegant style and demeanour

Chris – late 20s, plumber, rugged good looks and seductive charm disguise a sensitive soul

Jennifer – late 20s, lawyer, ambitious and cool, corporate style and demeanour

Simon – late 30s, lawyer, wise and kind, corporate style but with a touch of flare

 

Story:

Present day

●   An older Simon, together with his husband, Terry, is hosting a dinner party for his gay friends. They are discussing a young acquaintance of theirs who is having an affair with an older man in a traditional marriage. This leads to a discussion about whether bisexuality actually exists. Most of Simon’s friends say it doesn’t and that men who ‘turn’ gay in later life were gay all along and just in denial. Simon begs to differ and offers to tell the story of his old friends, celebrated interior designers, James and Kevin.

Mid 1990s

●   Four men are working on the floor of a small, clean and modern cabinet/furniture making factory. Among them is Kevin who is meticulously working on a finely sculpted chair. The other men are the foreman Mick, Joe and Taylor, the apprentice. We can hear Simon’s voice beginning his story when Kevin, a talented young furniture maker, started working for James’ successful interior design company. As his voice fades, Mick announces smoko. Joe and Taylor immediately stop work, but Mick has to urge Kevin to join them.

●   James and Jennifer drive into the factory carpark in the latest model of a luxury car. The car stops close to the entrance. We can see inside but not hear them. They both look angry and exchange a few terse words before James gets out. He opens the back door to get his things and Jennifer barely waits for him to slam the car door shut before she drives off. James watches the car drive off with a frown. He turns and walks into the factory.

●   Inside the factory, the four workers are gathered around the lunch table working on a list. We can hear them proposing friends and brothers to join them. James must walk past them to get to the glassed-in office up on the mezzanine floor. He forces a smile before asking them what they are conspiring about. Mick tells him they’re putting together an indoor cricket team of eight men for a Friday night tournament. Taylor innocently tells James they’re still a few men short and invites him to join them. Mick and Joe are annoyed at the prospect, but Kevin is beaming. James thinks for a moment, is tempted to say no, but suddenly realises it’s just what he needs and agrees. Kevin is obviously happy to hear it.

●   James goes into the office where he is greeted by Cheryl, the office manager. She is not pleased and tells him the phone has been ringing off the hook. He is a little short with Cheryl and says he’s late because they had trouble with the plumbing, but he’s obviously lying. Cheryl is annoyed but says nothing more. James sorts out his things, sits down at his drafting table and gets down to work.

●   Jennifer arrives at her law office in a foul mood. Her co-worker, Simon, suggests she has had another argument with James and sympathises. They go into a private room and Jennifer tells Simon what their argument was about that morning. James has been talking about marriage and children again, but Jennifer doesn’t want to interrupt her career. Simon tells her he envies her that choice. He’d love to have a nice boyfriend like James who would want to spend his life with him.

●   In the factory office James and Cheryl have been working late and Cheryl is on the verge of leaving. Now a bit more sympathetic towards James, she urges him not to work too late and go home. James pretends that he will set off home in a few minutes, but after she leaves, he sits for a few moments staring disconsolately into space before returning to work.

●   That same evening Kevin is meeting Chris at the pub. He tells Chris about the indoor cricket and invites him to join which Chris happily agrees to, but he can tell Kevin is excited about something more than playing cricket. Kevin confides that James has agreed to join the team. In the ensuing exchange we find that Kevin has a crush on James. Chris chides him for falling for another straight man and urges him to go out into the gay scene and find a man he could actually have a relationship with. Kevin remarks that unlike Chris, who likes to play the field and use his job as a plumber as an entrée into women’s homes, Kevin is looking for a committed relationship which he won’t find in the promiscuity of the gay scene. Chris retorts that it is Kevin who is shy of commitment, or why else would he spend his life pining for men he can never have and will never need to be intimate with. Chris confides that he once wasted several years of his life loving someone from afar and he would never do that again.

●   James lets himself into a large, beautifully appointed house which is now dark and unoccupied. The answering machine is showing one message pending. It’s Jennifer apologising half-heartedly for what occurred that morning and informing him that she has agreed to take a last-minute trip interstate for work. She’ll be away for a few days. James looks like he doesn’t quite believe her but is relieved rather than angry. James checks the fridge and takes out some leftovers which he puts into the microwave. While waiting he stares out the window through which he can see the family next door having dinner together. He sighs and turns his back on the scene.

●   James is arriving at the factory and walks past Kevin on his way to his office. He pauses to admire the work Kevin is doing on the chairs. Kevin responds by saying he feels good working on a well-designed piece. James remembers that Kevin likes to restore antique furniture and asks if he’s working on anything at the moment. Kevin tells him he’s looking at a piece that needs a lot of work, but he’s lost access to the workshop he usually uses. James invites him to bring it in and use the factory’s equipment if he needs to. Kevin is happy at the prospect.

●   Chris is in his plumber’s gear and knocking on the door of a suburban house. An attractive housewife answers. Chris smiles at her seductively and announces he has come to fix her bathroom plumbing. She smiles in return and shows him in. Inside the house, the housewife stands at the bathroom door admiring Chris’s muscular arms and legs. Chris announces he has fixed the problem. The housewife invites him to have a cup of tea before he leaves which Chris happily agrees to. Later, Chris leaves the house, both he and the housewife looking very satisfied with themselves.

●   In the indoor cricket stadium, James, Kevin and the team are playing a hearty game of cricket. They lose but it doesn’t really bother them as they’re having fun. In the change-room they good-naturedly tease each other about their performance as they shower and dress. Only Kevin seems a little restrained as he tries not to stare at James, while Chris watches Kevin, both amused and exasperated. James proposes they go for a drink together which they all agree to.

●   In the pub, amongst all the comings and goings, James and Kevin find themselves sitting next to each other. James remarks that Kevin is rather quiet. He comments that since Kevin hasn’t been working for him for very long, he hasn’t had a chance to get to know him. He asks Kevin to tell him about himself. Kevin is tongue-tied so Chris steps in and tells James a story about Kevin from when they were at school together. When all the other boys were auditioning for the school play just so they could impress the girls, Kevin was too shy to and instead volunteered to build the sets. James likes the story and smiles at Kevin. Kevin suddenly needs to go to the men’s room. Chris has to bite his lip to stop himself from laughing.

●   In the men’s room, Kevin locks himself in a cubicle and bangs the walls in frustration, until someone shouts at him to stop.

●   James comes home feeling relaxed but finds Jennifer is at home. They have a strained conversation in which he tells her he’s been playing cricket and she tells him her business trip went well. James turns towards the master bedroom, but Jennifer tells him she has moved all his things into the spare room. She wants to try a trial separation under one roof. James says nothing because he’s feeling too strongly to speak and goes into the spare room. He finds all his things neatly put away. He stands staring into the wardrobe.

●   Kevin enters a gay bar. He orders a drink and looks around. A few men greet him as acquaintances or check him out. One acquaintance comes and joins him at the bar. It’s been a while since Kevin was last in that bar and the man good-naturedly teases him about it. Kevin replies that he’s been busy elsewhere. Kevin goes with the man to join a group, one of whom smiles seductively at Kevin. Later Kevin is snogging with his admirer, but breaks away from him, saying he doesn’t feel like it tonight. His admirer is annoyed.

●   Kevin is alone and lets himself into his humble flat which is furnished with a few antiques he has restored himself. He flops down onto the couch, grabs a cushion, hugs it hard and buries his face in it.

●   Chris is at the door of another suburban house. The housewife answers the door in a negligee. Chris makes a plumbing double entendre as to why he is there. She smiles seductively and lets him in.

●   James arrives at the factory in a taxi. He walks through the factory to his office. He greets Cheryl and is settling down at his drafting table when Kevin comes to the door. James smiles when he sees him, and Kevin can’t meet his eye. He has come to query something in the drawings of a new piece he is making. James looks at the drawings and agrees there’s a mistake and asks Kevin what the solution would be. For them both to consult the drawings they have to stand shoulder to shoulder. We see Kevin minutely moving away so as not to touch James. As they conclude the consultation, James puts a hand on Kevin’s shoulder to commend him for his perceptiveness and smiles at him. Kevin backs away. James seems oblivious to the implications of Kevin’s behaviour, but Cheryl looks bemused.

●   We see the team playing another game of cricket which they win. The men are jubilant and there’s a lot of backslapping and mucking about in the change-room, which includes a physical interaction between James and Kevin. This time Kevin is a little more relaxed in his response. They all agree to go to the pub as usual.

●   At the pub, James is happy and relaxed, and Kevin is enjoying watching him. James catches his eye and smiles back. Urged by Chris, Kevin makes his way next to James and asks if it will be OK for him to bring his antique sideboard in on Monday. He intends picking it up the following morning. James tells him he’ll be in the factory all that day and suggests he bring it straight to the factory when he picks it up. Kevin agrees.

●   Kevin and Chris are picking up the sideboard. While Kevin wants to talk about furniture, Chris wants to talk about James. He reckons James really likes Kevin. Kevin tells Chris that that just makes things harder for him.

●   Kevin and Chris drive into the factory. James sees them and comes out of the office to help them unload. He admires the sideboard and Kevin’s taste. He tells Kevin he’s working on a new range and would like his opinion. Chris makes himself scarce. Kevin follows James into the office.

●   Later in the office Kevin and James are at the end of an intense consultation. James says it has been great having Kevin to bounce ideas off and it’s good to get input from someone who knows furniture hands-on. He says they make a great team. To thank him he invites Kevin out for dinner. Kevin indicates he isn’t dressed for it, but James says they can just go to the pub. Kevin accepts.

●   Over dinner at the pub, James and Kevin are having a good time. They are relaxed and laughing. As their plates are cleared away, James suggests they stay on for a few more drinks. Kevin seems a little concerned. He asks if James’s girlfriend will be expecting him home. James says he doubts it and repeats his invitation. Kevin agrees to stay.

●   Later, James has had a few too many drinks and Kevin is urging him to go home. James finally confides that there’s nothing for him there. He and Jennifer are on a trial separation under one roof. James then unburdens himself to Kevin, confiding that the trouble all began when he proposed to Jennifer and started talking about marriage and children. Jennifer had told him she has worked too hard and too long to get to where she is to give it up now to have babies. He asks Kevin for his advice. Kevin admits he can’t help him as he knows nothing about women. James presses him about his history with women. Kevin admits to having had a girlfriend once, but that was a long time ago. James is about to tease him for being celibate when he suddenly realises what Kevin is telling him. He’s surprised but not shocked. He asks if he and Chris are an item, but Kevin tells him they’re just very good friends and Chris definitely prefers women. However, while James is understanding, the revelation has put a bit of a dampener on their evening.

●   Kevin and James are outside the pub and Kevin is trying to hail a taxi. When one arrives, Kevin makes James take it alone as he lives in the other direction. Kevin watches the taxi drive off then begins to walk home, but after a few strides he breaks into a fast run.

●   James lets himself into the house and finds Jennifer watching TV. She asks if he’s eaten. He replies that he had dinner with one of the men from work and then corrects himself to call him a friend. He looks thoughtful and says he’s off to bed.

●   Kevin is in bed, restless and unable to sleep.

●   Chris is in bed with a woman when they hear her husband come in the front door. They frantically scramble, she to put on a dressing gown and go out to greet her husband, and Chris to put his clothes on and pretend he’s fixing their ensuite bathroom. The husband asks his wife about the plumber’s truck. She tells him she had an emergency and Chris was able to come round straightaway. The husband innocently goes to the door of the bathroom to chat with Chris.

●   On the factory floor, James walks past Kevin’s sideboard and then goes closer to see what Kevin has done with it so far. Kevin approaches but pauses when he sees James. James turns and smiles at him and asks him something about the piece. Kevin approaches and talks freely to him about it. James suggests he get Taylor to help him with the work as he could do with the experience.

●   Kevin and Chris are in the pub laughing over Chris’s latest near miss. Kevin warns him that he will literally get caught with his pants down someday. Chris asks how things went with James after he left on Saturday. Kevin tells him they went out to dinner together and admits he let slip he was gay. Chris asks how James reacted and Kevin says he was fine. But? Chris asks. Kevin now feels even more awkward with James and wonders if he should quit. Chris urges him to stay because he loves the job so much.

●   James is at home getting ready to go to cricket. Jennifer asks what time he intends getting home. James points out that since they are separated that’s none of her concern. She tells him she still cares for him, but he retorts she likes his house better than him, otherwise she would have done the right thing and moved out. Isn’t she still there because it would be too expensive to get a place of her own? She tells him she’s staying because she’s not sure she really wants to end it as she still cares about him. He tells her it’s obviously not enough and storms out.

●   The cricket team is in the change rooms before the game. James gives Kevin a sidelong look but otherwise acts naturally. Kevin decides to front it out and gives no indication anything has changed. They talk about going to the pub after the game. Three of the men can’t come as they are getting up before dawn on the following day to go fishing. The rest all agree to go.

●   Jennifer is at home on the phone with Simon. She tells Simon she’s worried about James as he’s spending so much time at work and now he’s started playing cricket with his workers. Simon warns her to be careful if she doesn’t want to lose James altogether.

●   At the pub, two more men are getting up to go, leaving just James, Kevin and Chris. James has had a few too many drinks and when Kevin gets up to leave, he asks him to stay on with him. Chris takes this as a sign and leaves the two of them alone. James is relieved to be alone with Kevin. He tells him about the fight with Jennifer. He apologises for burdening Kevin with it, but all of his friends are mutual friends and he can’t talk to them as Jennifer has not made their separation public. He thinks she’s covering all her bases. Kevin says perhaps she still loves him and isn’t ready to let go. James says that isn’t fair on him. He’s in a situation in which he has to leave his own house or accept her terms. James jokes that perhaps it would be better to be gay as women are so difficult to understand. Kevin tells him men come with their own issues. James asks if Kevin has a boyfriend. Kevin tells him that he hasn’t at the moment. James is surprised that someone as sweet and good-looking as Kevin is unattached. He suggests they go to a gay bar and find someone nice for him. Where’s the nearest one? Kevin doesn’t want to, but James is too drunk to reason with and Kevin doesn’t want to leave him alone.

●   James and Kevin enter the same gay bar Kevin was in earlier. They are soon joined by Kevin’s acquaintances who ask him who his new boyfriend is. James is about to refute this when he decides to go along with them as a joke. He puts his arm around Kevin and introduces himself. Later, James and Kevin are sitting with a few of the other men and James is regaling them with his very positive thoughts on Kevin and saying things like he could see himself spending the rest of his life with Kevin. This is all like a knife to Kevin’s heart. Finally he’s able to prise James out of the bar.

●   James and Kevin are in the street. James is draped over Kevin while Kevin is trying to hail a taxi. When one comes, Kevin has to get into it with James. James falls asleep with his head on Kevin’s shoulder.

●   The taxi stops outside James’s house. Kevin has to wake James up then walk him to the door as he isn’t too steady on his feet. Continuing what he started in the bar, James says goodbye as though they were lovers and moves to kiss Kevin. Overwhelmed by his feelings, Kevin kisses James passionately. James backs off, looking confused. He says goodnight and tries to put the key in the lock but can’t. Kevin takes the keys and unlocks the door. James goes inside. Kevin goes back to the taxi literally hitting himself for being so foolish.

●   Kevin and Chris are on a morning run. Chris is urging Kevin to tell him what happened after he left which Kevin is resisting. Finally he gives in and tells Chris what happened. Chris thinks James’s response was positive. Kevin is furious at Chris and runs faster.

●   James is sitting in his landscaped garden nursing a hangover and enjoying the sun. Jennifer approaches him. She apologises for hurting him and asks for a second chance. She asks if she should put his things back in the master bedroom. He coolly tells her not to bother. She gets closer and tells him she loves him and starts to make love to him, leaving him no option but to respond. However, he backs off before it goes too far.

●   On Monday afternoon in the factory, the men and Cheryl are off home. James is working back and Kevin tells his co-workers he’s going to stay a while to work on his sideboard. When they are alone Kevin goes to the office and stands at the doorway until James notices him. James invites him in but doesn’t smile. They both start trying to apologise at once. James says he was drunk and out of order. He apologises for embarrassing Kevin like that. Kevin apologises for kissing him as he did, but he must reluctantly admit he has feelings for James. He promises it won’t happen again and offers to quit. James wants him to stay and apologises for using his position as Kevin’s boss to put Kevin in an awkward position. He says he’s the one who’s to blame and asks him to stay. He’s too valuable a worker to lose. Kevin agrees to stay, but they both know it’s the end of their friendship as they have known it.

●   Chris enters a suburban house to find a young woman struggling with some kitchen plumbing. She showers herself with dirty water. Chris laughs and tells her she should have turned the water off first. He offers to wait to turn off the water until she’s had a shower. Later she comes into the kitchen in a dressing gown and watches Chris work. He gives her a few pointers for next time, but she smiles seductively at him and says she’ll call him straightaway next time. Chris smiles in return.

●   It’s home time at the factory and the men are getting ready to leave except Kevin who is working alone on his sideboard. James approaches Kevin and asks why he hasn’t got Taylor helping him. Kevin says he doesn’t want to impose. James calls Taylor over and suggests he help Kevin with his sideboard even in work hours as he can learn a lot from him. Taylor happily agrees and offers to stay back then and there. As they are talking Jennifer appears at the factory door, calling James ‘darling’ and asking if he’s ready to come home. James looks shamefacedly at Kevin before responding.

●   James gets into the car with Jennifer but is clearly uncomfortable when she tries to kiss him.

●   Chris is in a suburban back yard, digging a trench and looking very sweaty and dirty. The housewife comes out to him with a cold beer and suggests he have a shower before he goes. He agrees with his characteristic seductive smile.

●   James is trying to get away from the factory office for a meeting while arguing with Cheryl about the Christmas party. Cheryl tells him they’ve left it too late to book a restaurant and suggests they decorate the factory. James isn’t pleased and says they’ll talk about it further tomorrow.

●   James arrives home to find Jennifer has prepared a sumptuous meal. James tries to look pleased. Over dinner they discuss the factory’s Christmas party. James admits he hasn’t the time to organise it himself and Cheryl lacks imagination. Jennifer offers to organise it, brushing off James’s objections that she has her own work to do. She insists she would love to do it. After dinner, Jennifer invites James to sleep with her, but he says he’s very tired and goes to his own room.

●   Kevin and Chris are at a public pool having a swim. They are discussing Kevin’s relationship with James. Chris is curious but Kevin insists there is nothing going on. James is still friendly towards Kevin, but whatever there was between them has burned itself out. Kevin blames himself for stepping over the line. Anyway, it looks like James and Jennifer are back together. He jokes that he might give them his antique sideboard as a wedding present. Chris commiserates with him.

●   The factory staff, with their significant others and a few guests, are gathered at the factory which has been set up for the Christmas party. Kevin has invited Chris as his plus-one. James arrives with Jennifer who clings to him in case anyone should miss that they’re an item. James introduces her to his staff one at a time, but when she gets to Kevin they are pleased and excited to recognise each other as old friends. Jennifer tells James that Kevin was her boyfriend back in high school. Kevin introduces Chris to her. Jennifer seems impressed by him, but she has to be reminded that they were at school together. Jennifer reminisces that Chris was a skinny little thing back then but was obviously a late bloomer. Chris is uncharacteristically tongue-tied. James is nonplussed.

●   Later, Jennifer comes and sits next to Kevin for a private word. They repeat how glad they are to see each other. Making sure no one else hears them, Jennifer asks if Chris is Kevins’ boyfriend and did it start back at school. She has heard that Kevin is gay on the old-school network. Kevin admits that he is gay but tells her that he and Chris are just friends and that Chris is decidedly straight. Kevin brings Chris into the conversation and tells Jennifer that Chris is a plumber now. Jennifer thinks that would be handy to know and asks Chris for a card. He digs one out of his wallet and asks her to call him anytime and she says she will. Suddenly a song that was popular in their schooldays comes on and Jennifer drags Kevin onto the dancefloor where they laugh a lot as they recall the dances they used to do when they were teenagers. Chris is watching on looking rather dejected, as is James.

●   Later, Jennifer seems a little drunk and confides in Kevin that she and James are going through a rough patch and are at odds about marriage and children. She admits that they are sleeping in separate rooms, though she makes it seem it was James’ choice to do so. But she says she knows that James won’t be able to resist her charms for much longer.

●   As the party is winding down, Jennifer brings Kevin and James together and proposes they invite Kevin for dinner as soon as the Christmas break is over. Kevin and James pretend to be happy about the prospect. As Jennifer and James are heading off together, Jennifer says she’ll invite her colleague Simon who is looking for a nice young man just like Kevin.

●   After the party, Chris and Kevin are having a drink at a bar and Chris is getting drunk. Kevin is elated about seeing Jenny again and can’t understand why Chris is so dejected but then he recalls that Chris never really liked Jenny. Chris contradicts him, telling him that it was Jenny who didn’t like him. He adored Jenny. In fact he only hung around with Kevin because he was Jenny’s boyfriend. Jenny was the one and only love of his life and if he’d known that Kevin was gay back then he might have had a chance with her if he’d been bold enough. He recalls how upset he felt about Jenny when Kevin came out to him. Kevin is surprised and sorry. He had no idea that Chris had been hurting so much.

●   Kevin is alone in the factory working on his sideboard. James arrives and they are a bit restrained with each other. James goes to his office. Later James is in his office when he hears Kevin cry out and curse. Terrified, James rushes out of the office, only to find that Kevin is frustrated rather than injured. Relieved, James offers a second pair of hands. This eases the tension and they work and chat together for a while. James tells Kevin he shouldn’t feel obliged to come to dinner. Kevin says he’s looking forward to catching up with Jenny and they talk about the old days. Kevin reassures James that he and Jenny went out together and did a lot of snogging, but they never went as far as sex. This makes James uncomfortable and he retreats to his office.

●   James is answering the door to Kevin who is carrying a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers. James graciously invites him in but there is still tension between them. Kevin notices the table is set for four and James tells him the fourth guest is Jennifer’s gay colleague Simon. James seems uncomfortable at the thought of Jennifer trying to set Kevin up. Jennifer comes out of the kitchen and hugs Kevin.

●   Dinner is well on the way. Jennifer is animated and she and Simon are dominating the conversation. Kevin and James are sitting opposite each other but are subdued in comparison. Simon and Jennifer remark on their reticence, then Jennifer gets up to get more wine. While she’s out, Simon remarks that Kevin and James are so quiet together he can’t tell whether they hate each other or are madly in love, but since they are both such nice men, he can’t see that they would hate each other.

●   Later, Simon is helping Jennifer in the kitchen. She asks him what he thinks of Kevin. Simon says he likes him very much, but he gets the vibe that he’s in love already. He asks her how she and James are getting on. She tells him James has learned his lesson. He’s realised he can’t live without her and has stopped talking about marriage and kids. She’s still keeping him at a distance though and not sleeping with him. Simon remarks this might be dangerous as James might stray.  Jennifer replies that James isn’t that adventurous.

●   Meanwhile, James invites Kevin into the garden and when they are out of sight of the kitchen grabs him and kisses him. Kevin is delighted and returns the kiss with ardour. James says he’ll be at the factory tomorrow.

●   The next morning, Kevin is at the factory by himself, working rather half-heartedly on his sideboard, obviously waiting for James, and looking dejected. James finally turns up. Kevin isn’t sure whether to approach him or not. James too looks uncomfortable. He greets Kevin briefly then goes up to the office. We see both James and Kevin trying to work, but both looking distracted. Finally James goes to a cabinet and gets out a bottle of scotch and two glasses. He takes them down to the lunch table and invites Kevin to have a drink with him. Kevin is wary and takes a glass. Still standing, they both take a sip then James picks up the bottle and suggests they’ll be more comfortable up in his office. There they sit on his couch. James drains his glass then takes Kevin’s from his hand and kisses him. They begin to make passionate love.

●   An extended montage under romantic music of James and Kevin being happy together as workmates, friends and lovers.

●   Jennifer is with Simon at work. She is confiding in him that James has been distracted lately and she thinks he is seeing another woman. Simon suggests he might be seeing a man. Jennifer scoffs at the idea.

●   Chris has joined Kevin and James at the pub. James and Kevin are very happy together which makes Chris feel a bit disgruntled. When James goes to the bar, Chris uses a crude gesture to ask if the two of them are having intercourse. Kevin replies that they ‘just cuddle’. He reminds Chris that he is James’ first and he’s already come a long way. Chris asks if Kevin would be satisfied with ‘just cuddles’ for the rest of his life and Kevin replies that with James he would be. Then Chris asks whether James would be satisfied with ‘just cuddles’ for the rest of his life. What happens when the novelty of being with a man wears off and he wants to go back to having proper sex with women? He’s still living with Jenny. It looks like he’s hedging his bets. We can tell from Kevin’s expression the idea isn’t new to him, but he’s been avoiding thinking about it. When he sees James returning, Chris excuses himself and leaves them.

●   Chris is at the front door of James’s house. Jennifer answers the door. Looking bemused she lets Chris in.

●   Chris and Jennifer are on the couch kissing passionately. Jennifer pulls away and asks Chris what James is up to. Is he with another woman? She seems to be requiring Chris to give her the information she wants in return for any further sexual activity. Chris tells her that he left James in the pub with Kevin. She wonders if Kevin has a crush on James and seems amused because she’s sure James would be totally oblivious to his feelings. Chris tentatively suggests that James and Kevin might have something going. This angers Jennifer and she pulls away from him. To mollify her, Chris reassures her nothing is going on between them and they go back to kissing.

●   Kevin and James are in bed together after sex. James is blissfully happy, but Kevin looks concerned. He asks James to define their relationship and where it might be heading. James doesn’t want to think about this and asks Kevin to just be happy in the moment. Kevin asks whether their relationship has a future. After all he’s still living with Jennifer, so that he still has the option of marriage and children. Is James just experimenting with Kevin? This makes James uncomfortable and he distracts Kevin by kissing him.

●   James, Jennifer and Kevin are in formal dress at an industry awards night. James wins the award and in his thankyou speech attributes his success to Kevin and Jennifer. As James is mingling, Kevin and Jennifer are left alone. Jennifer seems unhappy. She scoffs at the fact that James is so popular. Everyone likes him. Why, she believes even Kevin fancies him. Trying to make light of it, Kevin admits that he does. Jennifer laughs, telling Kevin he’s barking up the wrong tree. James would never return his feelings as he’s definitely not gay, and she should know. Treading carefully, Kevin asks if things have improved between them. Deliberately using emotional blackmail on Kevin, Jennifer tells him she regrets allowing a distance to develop between herself and James. She has come to realise how much she loves him, and knows that he loves her. He’s just still hurt over the way she reacted when he told her how much he wants children. She understands now how much having children means to him and she’s changed her mind. She’s willing to have children and make James happy. Kevin is thoughtful. James looks their way and smiles, but it’s hard to tell which one he’s smiling at.

●   In the bedroom of Kevin’s flat, James and Kevin are getting dressed after going to bed together. James can tell that Kevin is unhappy and asks him why. With great reluctance, Kevin says he thinks this should be their last time. James can’t understand, but Kevin explains to him that he thinks he has taken advantage of James. He believes James is on the rebound and still in love with Jennifer, and anyway, he isn’t gay. He’s just been experimenting with Kevin because he hasn’t been getting any sex at home. Their relationship couldn’t last much longer anyway. James wants marriage and kids, which he couldn’t have with Kevin. Sooner or later James would come to resent Kevin for seducing him and leave him.  In saying all this Kevin has worked himself up into a rage, antagonizing James. James says that Kevin doesn’t know him at all and storms out.

●   Kevin is at the pub with Chris, looking sad. He tells Chris what he has done and why. Chris commiserates, but is obviously disappointed in his own hopes for himself and Jennifer. Kevin confides that he really loves James and thought he was the one.

●   James is sitting up in bed reading when Jennifer comes into his room in a sexy negligee. She sits on the bed and tells James she’s decided she’ll have children because she wants him to be happy. He tells her it wouldn’t be good for them or their children if Jennifer had them just to hold onto him and asks her to leave.

●   The following Monday morning at the factory, James is working in his office when Kevin comes in. Cheryl can see how things stand and makes herself scarce. Forced to be restrained because they are in view of the factory floor, Kevin tells James he thinks it’s time he quit. He offers to allow James to dock his pay two weeks’ wages in lieu of notice and he will go straightaway. James asks him not to go. He is vital to his work. Kevin says he thought so too for a while, but he sees otherwise now. He turns to go, but to stall him James asks him about his sideboard. Kevin tells him he has finished it and that James can keep it as a wedding present. He goes downstairs. The other men watch in silence as he gathers up his things and leaves without a backwards glance.

●   James is watching from his house as Jennifer walks to a taxi pulling two huge suitcases. We can tell from their expressions that this is what James wants rather than Jennifer. The driver gets out and helps her put her suitcases in the boot. They both get into the car and drive off.  James goes indoors to the master bedroom. He closes the empty wardrobes and tidies the room. He pauses when all is done, looks around, then leaves the room, closing the door behind him.

●   Kevin is on a long, exhausting run through the bush by himself. He pauses on a ridge for a drink and looks out over a wide, empty landscape.

●   Chris is knocking on the door of a luxury hotel room. Jennifer opens the door. She seems annoyed with him, but then pulls him towards her and kisses him hungrily.

●   Mick, Joe and Taylor are hefting Kevin’s now beautifully restored antique sideboard up to James’ office. It doesn’t quite fit in with James’ sleek modern furniture, but James ensures it’s set down in pride of place. As they leave each of the workmen gives the piece an affectionate pat as though saying goodbye to Kevin. Left alone, James caresses it lovingly.

●   Simon is at home, settling down for the evening, when the doorbell rings. It’s James carrying a bottle of wine. He apologises for intruding, saying he got Simon’s details from an old address book Jennifer left behind. He asks if Simon is free to talk. Simon invites James in and they sit down. It takes a while for James to get out the words, but finally he’s able to open up to Simon and tells him about Kevin and his feelings of confusion about his sexuality. He’s never been with or had feelings for a man before, and wonders whether Kevin was right, that he had just been experimenting with him because of his situation with Jennifer. The thing is, he misses Kevin more than anything. Simon suggests they try an experiment. He sits next to James, kisses him seductively and asks him how he feels. James says he doesn’t feel anything except that it reminded him of Kevin. Simon then asks him about his need for marriage and children. Does he still feel that? James isn’t sure as he hasn’t really been thinking about it since Jennifer left. Simon suggests that perhaps he just wanted marriage and children to feel loved. Did Kevin make him feel loved? That is something James is sure of. And did he love Kevin? James is sure of that, too. So, Simon suggests, James might not be gay, but he is in love with Kevin and being with Kevin is what he really wants. He urges James to stop brooding about it and ‘follow his heart.’

●   It’s late at night. James is standing outside the door to Kevin’s flat. Building up his courage, he knocks on the door. It takes a while for Kevin to answer so James knocks several times. Finally a sleepy and dishevelled Kevin opens the door. He thinks it’s Chris and is annoyed with him, but is stunned to see James. James asks if he can come in. Still too stunned to speak, Kevin lets James in. Nervously James says what he came to say. He has missed Kevin more than he can say. Whatever Kevin might have thought he wasn’t experimenting with him. It was the real thing. He isn’t gay but he loved Kevin and still loves him and wants to spend his life with him and him alone. During this speech, Kevin’s smile has grown and he has moved closer and closer to James. By the time James has finished, they are close enough to kiss passionately.

Present day

●   Simon concludes his story by telling his friends that he and Terry will be best men at Kevin and James’ upcoming wedding. His friends are happy for the couple but tell Simon his interpretation of the story is mistaken. James must have been gay all along. After all, it looks like Jennifer was the type of woman who was attracted to gay men. As the guests leave, Terry asks Simon if his version of events was actually true since Simon had never told him that story before. Simon shrugs mysteriously and gives Terry a kiss.

●   Under the closing credits we see the wedding. Kevin and James are a little older, but blissfully happy, Simon and Terry are proudly by their side and Chris and his wife Jennifer, Cheryl, Mick, Joe and Taylor and their partners are in the audience.

© Pauline Montagna 2021

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