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The Duvet of Secrets

by Simon

Finished? no
Number of chapters: 1

THE DUVET OF SECRETS By Simon The changing of a thousand lives began inconspicuously during the dying hours of an energetic soiree held in a nondescript inner-city London pad. The Host of the event was a moderately decrepit middle class gypsy, famous for his whisky drinking, mild perversions and sage wisdom. He had no sense of style and wandered around the place in badly fitting underwear, bollocks hanging out and his demeanour swerving wildly between outrageousness and deep contemplation. Some guests found him to be disturbing; others saw him as exciting. Whatever the case, this was the place to be if you happened to find yourself in London with the right connections and could handle the bizarre. Years later, an art zine journalist generously described these events as the 21st century parallel of Andy Warhol's 'The Factory'”. Lou Reed pumped through the speakers, vibrating the small but increasing mounds of cocaine and accelerating the understated mood of kink. The guests, a mix of sharp wit and repressed sexuality, loved it all. But this event was not for the faint hearted. In the words of humourist Lennie Lower, this place was where everyone gets shot but no-one dies. “You're a repressed fucking faggot and you need to be slapped around” observed one purple-haired older guest as he glared at a wide-eyed youngster. “Get a life”. “You're a fucking pervert” the wide eyed man responded. “You're like, like, some fucked-up Lucien Freud character, so fuck off”. “Don't dump your baggage on me”, he continued, before storming into the kitchen to find better company. It went on like that, more or less all night. So much for the aim of a sensitive soiree. As dawn peeked through messy curtains, the Host lay back on a cigarette-strewn couch, contemplating the twisted bodies and general chaos of the place. The purple haired guy was with the wide eyed youngster. Odd. Laying aside the Host was a youngish man of indeterminate age, though – the Host imagined - apparently capable and experienced enough to hurt any medium size government if he so chose. They talked of ordinary things: single malt whiskies, scrambled eggs, masturbation and the monarchy. And then, more conversation about scrambled eggs and how they should be garnished - if at all. This was a deeply controversial topic. “Scrambled egg, done perfectly, is nectar of the gods. It requires no garnish. That's like.. like sticking a mint flavoured umbrella into a great Martini,” the Host observed. “Bur art is everything. It's like, the style. That amplifies the experience. I mean, fuck you, but it's all about the full picture”. “It also pollutes the egg – so fuck you”, the Host responded with some irritation in his voice. The youngish man contemplated this commentary. “You know, I don't mean to demean scrambled eggs.” Then he thought a while longer. “Remember that line that that fuck the Marquess of Queensberry wrote?” “The Oscar Wilde Queensberry or, erm, the pottery professor Queensberry, or the one who threw himself off the tower block last year?” “The Wilde one. Anyway, he began a poem that went 'when I am dead, cremate me.' Remember it?” “Yeah. Sort of. Masterly. And so?” “Well”, continued the youngish man, “When I'm dead I want to be buried in a vat of perfectly done scrambled eggs so it, like, infuses into me and makes me sort of the whole scrambled egg genre.” This cocaine induced exchange continued for a while, circling around the obvious point that they both had an insane desire to dance or kiss or just do anything to relieve the boredom. After a time, scrambled egg man turned to the Host and whispered hoarsely that he had things he wanted to get “off my chest”. He asked if they could meet privately in the Host's infamous bedroom to discuss these matters. They lay together amidst the scent of sour alcohol, three day-old coffee and leather, their bodies pressed together - though not intimately. Scrambled egg man told his story. The Host listened with increasing awe as the man unveiled a secret that had haunted him for a decade. Then came a gush of tears, wetting the Host's shoulder and splattering the crumpled sheet. Instinctively, the Host grabbed the duvet with its fresh crisp red and grey cover and drew it tightly over their heads, sinking them into darkness and safety. Scrambled egg man continued, recounting a litany of deeply disturbing thoughts, his breath hot in the Host's ear. It was all over within half an hour, leaving both men drenched and exhausted. Scrambled eggs joyously left the house, absolved and relieved that his lust was not so deeply abnormal after all. Indeed, it seemed curiously healthy. Other people – the Host confirmed – have similar thoughts and have done similar things. Worse things. The Host sat on the edge of his bed, mildly aroused but on edge about the enormity of what had just happened. Maybe he was just feeling the coke come-down. Weeks passed before the next inevitable soiree. In attendance was the usual mix of post-grad misfits, druggies, shallow intellectuals, music wannabies and literary types. They sat around teasing each other in an attempt to get a rise and heighten the temperature of the occasion. Scrambled eggs had brought along a companion who was acting every bit like a doting protègè . Pale and inscrutable, this man seemed troubled and sat in the corner sucking on a glass of neat vodka large enough to kill a horse. Vodka Man kept glancing at the Host with an occasional Mona Lisa smile. “Please let James speak to you” pleaded scrambled eggs. The Host wearily agreed. James approached timidly before explaining that he had heard of this “duvet of secrets” and had stuff he needed to unload. They journeyed to the bedroom and lay down. It was like before, though less physically intimate. They lay apart and the duvet fell between them like the wall of a confessional. Then followed a tale of unlawful lust for untouchable and illicit delights. Sadness, anxiety, depression, fear, temptation and deep deep yearning. The Host felt heaving and muffled sobbing from the other side but thankfully was not inflicted with the wetness. He dispensed dispassionate advice and tried to normalise the horror. James left the room, then turned back and gave an unexpected deep hug. “They talk about, like, when a weight has been lifted. It has. Thank you, thank you”. Within weeks, the confessional had gone viral and the duvet was the stuff of minor legend. Like a three-star Michelin restaurant, people went out of their way to experience its magic. Cursed by the Second Degree of Separation Syndrome, the Host felt obliged to service each request. This was no easy matter for the Host. Extraordinary as he might have been in his professional life, this was – after all – just an ordinary man with no credentials in the field. Yet here he was, cast in the role of confessor. It was an erotic, satisfying and yet deeply draining task. There were difficult moments. So difficult. At one point a young women confessed thoughts that were truly frightening. They extended to the darkest boundaries of Hell. She described lusts that defied description but she left the duvet – as they all did – with a smile and a lightened heart while the Host collapsed in the couch and downed a bottle of whisky to calm his nerves. He imagined he had heard everything, but never anything like that. These sessions weren't always so troublesome. Sometimes the they were ordinary: nappies, horses, siblings, suffocation, self mutilation, rubber, rape fantasies, kidnapping, scat or mannequins. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being less sensational) those rate at number two, just behind spanking or piss. It was important to provide relativity and context for people under the duvet. Even though the Host once claimed nothing sexual ever happened under there, he was lying (he later justified this deception in the words “if three star restaurant idiots can get away with garnishing their scrambled eggs, then I am free to garnish the facts”). In such cases, when the ordinariness was established, the explosion sometimes spontaneously happened at both ends of the duvet. On occasion, such outcomes are as certain as the rising of the sun. Before long, the duvet had taken on a character all its own. After two hundred sessions it reeked of pheromone, sweat, tears, adrenalin and precum but the Host could not bear to wash the item. Indeed it was this very infusion that made the duvet so special. Men – and even some women - found it deeply consoling and even erotic. Its scent and its history were magnetic. There was a time when the Host would entertain impossible partners in his bedroom on the basis of his own qualities. Old and shapeless as he was, the Host had always attracted the company of smart and beautiful people because he was famously entertaining, clever and sexually exotic. Now the duvet held court, steaming in a corner garbage bag and beckoning to all who entered the room. Even those who had little to confess wanted to experience its magic. The Host became a mere conduit. “Let's fuck but let's do it under that duvet”. The Host always refused. By June the following year the duvet had put on considerable weight and its scent might well have attracted the attention of passing foxes and even aeroplanes. It lay in wait for all those who wished to experience the wizardry and witchcraft with which it had been endowed. The duvet was full of energy and power and life, but the Host became increasingly sour and depleted. He tried to give up this circus but was strangely compelled by it. The addiction was strong yet still enchanting, but he hated the duvet with a passion beyond anything he had known before. “You can't kill it” advised a friend. “There's too much invested in it”. * * * * * It was November 5th, Guy Fawkes day, and the Host had finally met his perfect man. Slim, beautiful, cleverly musical and fiercely smart, Daniel seemed the ultimate partner. He had, that year, established a musicology centre in central London and spent the rest of his time performing magic tricks on the street and starting political protests. “You know, I once met a musicologist”, explained the Host, as they sucked on a flask of cheap vodka on the river. “I was, like, nineteen at the time and he was sort of cute, but I was fucked up and never took it anywhere. He courted me and really wanted it to happen but I was totally scared. Then I met this guy a year later – he ran the studios that AC/DC recorded in. Long dead now. He also wanted me but he was old and I was scared. All fucked up really.” Daniel looked out over the Thames, the fireworks reflecting off his smooth face. “Yeah, I get that. It's all regrets, isn't it”. “Do you like scrambled eggs?” asked the Host. “Yeah, but au naturale”. They enjoyed a steamy evening watching the fireworks and teasing each other with fantastic and erotic promises. Then they travelled to the flat. At last, for the Host, here was someone who wanted friendship just for the love of friendship. It took less than a minute for Daniel to get the scent of the duvet. “Is that really it? Is that the magic cover?” Daniel had heard about the duvet. He had read the stories and wanted to experience it, but again, the Host refused. He did not want something special to be polluted with such sewage. They argued. “Just let me touch it!” “No.” “Why? I mean, Jesus, it's not like it's anything special. I just want to chalk it up as a, like, a sort of experience thing”. “It's fucking evil. Just no, no, just don't go near it.” “You're totally selfish. I thought you were better than that and I - you said,- you fucking said, we'd share everything.” Daniel stormed off, incensed that this old man had refused him something that he had gladly shared with almost everyone else. In Daniel's mind, this was a betrayal and it certainly was no harbinger of a healthy relationship. “Fuck you!” he yelled from the bottom of the stairs. The door slammed shut at 4.56 AM. Silence. The Host stared angrily at the duvet for a while before grabbing the menace and hurling it across the room. Reaching for a cutting knife he sliced the object into pieces in a frenzy of murder. It sat in a steaming mound on the floor, reeking more than ever. The Host bundled up the pieces and went downstairs to the local community bonfire that was held each Guy Fawkes day. He hurled the mess into the dying embers where it crackled and sparkled before bursting brightly into blue flame. * * * * * The coroner's report places the time of death at 05.25 AM, due to heart failure. A witness to the event stated to the court that she noticed the deceased wore a “kind of blissful” smile.


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