He should be his father’s son in this, remain stoical, stay true to his love and find consolation in his duty. He should not ruin what little he has by speaking unwelcome and unwanted words. He should be happy with what he’s got. Steadfast friendship.
It’s so much more than he could have ever dreamed of.
He’d given up on such things so long ago, that he should settle for this, rather than crave rich food which would be ruinous to his constitution.
But now he knows his father did not. And so even that solace is stolen from him.
Like Ray would say about Diefenbaker and Turtle the turtle, it is a matter of natural enemies.
Mounties and Chicago Detectives. It shouldn’t happen. They, ah, are competitors for the same food source.
Of course, Mounties and criminals, that’s even more wrong, transgresses the very law of nature and leads to the destruction of one or both. He’s done that.
The bullet in his back itches and cools his ardour.
It only remains to see which of them is the turtle and which is the wolf in this.
He hears Ray’s voice, “Hey, come on, Wolfboy!”
And there’s the answer.
Gone. He should be gone, and with it these tormenting feelings will be gone. Remove the object and the desire will fade. Out of sight, out of mind, as his Grandmother would say.
He should have taken the transfer to Ottawa, instead he hoped that loyalty might overrule lust.
It does not, loyalty merely compels his presence, which lust then feeds upon.
He has dreams of the Robert Mackenzie.
He awakes in his office alone. And erect, if he is fortunate, and glued to his sheets by his transgression, if he is not.
He loyally betrays both Ray and himself.
Ray always puts candies in his coffee. Ray always avoids dental appointments even if his insurance demands them. Ray always makes coffee with lukewarm tap-water, if he is in too much of a hurry for the kettle.
Ray always gets Sandor to deliver his pizza. Ray always gives Sandor a backhander. Ray always sits on the couch, without thought for propriety, or dignity, lounging there. Boots off, socks on, half his clothes discarded. Ray always raises these feelings in Benton.
Ray always loves Stella, even if she hurts him.
And he never tells Ray how he could love him instead.
He needs to do this, he needs to break the cycle, he needs to stop these repeating days of Ray and nights of unrelenting lust.
He’s tried other ways, he’s tried frequenting bars and finding momentary venal distractions. He’s spent what feels like a thousand nights on his knees in alleys, dreaming that this blonde man, this skinny man, is Ray. He’s found that dumpsters are not only good for evidence, but for leaning against.
Nothing worked. And so he must break it off, give Ray his due as a friend and then let it moulder away in his absence.
Why would it not stop? He has a new posting, miles of wilderness, birds to observe, caribou to hunt, criminals to track. He even has kindly colleagues who do not look upon his deviation from the norm too harshly.
He has his work, a new dog team to train. So many blessings and he should not count them.
He should not count them and mourn that Ray is not among them.
He should not come into the Detachment off duty only to observe somebody who is merely a shadow, an echo, of Ray.
But he does and feeds his discontent.
The way the constable moves is neither wrong nor improper, yet I cannot control my eyes. My eyes see a man swaying in tight jeans, telling me I could dance if I try.
I do not trust my eyes, just as I did not trust then. It behoves an officer to follow his suspicions.
I smell the constable, and my nose smells a man, perfumed with cordite and river-water and laid out flat on a bed of rubber ducks.
And so my eyes and nose and mind lie, and I, urged on, ask.
The Constable is horrified.
Nothing but hubris.
He has done something totally improper.
Constable Farquahson looked so terribly like Ray that it hurt, though his blond-brown hair could never be called dirty and was neatly installed beneath his Stetson.
And he should have ignored it, persevered through it, requested a new posting with only snow to look upon until it once again became his sole love.
He wants to talk to his father, but he is gone. His odd combination of wisdom, experience, and sheer bloody-mindesness would have been a great help now.
He has nobody else to talk to. There is nobody else who might understand.
It was remarkably simple once he’d found the appropriate book. Simple mechanical mathematics. And he’d always been good at mathematics; it’s just another kind of procedure.
And he’d written everything down, that was procedure as well.
And he tied the loose end of the rope to the rafters of the dog-shed in the prescribed manner. Procedure again, everything was about procedure.
His whole life has been led according to proper procedure, and it has taken him until now to recognise it for the hollow thing it is. Soon, procedure ends forever.
And then he kicks away the ladder beneath him.
Benton looked up at his broken body hanging there.
Now was not the time for second thoughts. Such things lead to death: a childhood lesson. Johnny bought in from the snow. His father went to track and shoot the bear. Was it wrong to be glad he failed?
He reached for the note, to amend it, and failed. It was lies, whenever he said something personal, it was lies. He’d lied to the Service Psychologist to get out of his first posting. He knew the report was why they’d chosen Chicago for his exile, but cities had never scared him.
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