Blind since birth, Martin Kellam is facing the prospect of yet another Christmas alone save for his guide dog, Toby. Finding it easier to shop online, Martin orders groceries to be delivered from the local supermarket. It doesn’t hurt that the delivery driver is strong, hot, and has a sexy London accent.
Colin Rodgers usually leaves Martin’s deliveries until last so he can spend a little extra time with the man he admires and has a secret longing to protect. One day close to Christmas, Martin is making soup and asks Colin to join him. Colin agrees. As they eat, Colin reveals he’s not looking forward to Christmas as he’ll be spending it with a friend and the friend’s fiancée.
Not expecting him to accept, Martin offers to cook Christmas dinner for Colin. But Colin surprises him. Will turkey and stuffing be all they’ll share?
Colin had deliberately left Martin’s delivery till last; he also enjoyed the times he spent helping the kind and softly spoken man. Despite his all too evident disability, Colin marvelled at how together Martin always seemed.
He also knew Martin received few visitors, and judging by how little he’d ordered, he’d be alone for Christmas, as well.
Colin was also rather lonely for companionship. He’d known Simon for a number of years; they’d gone to school together. Simon was devastatingly good looking, and, boy, did he know it. Colin had been besotted with Simon throughout their time together. Colin had foolishly believed in loving someone despite their faults, hoping that if he showed Simon total love and devotion, it would somehow change his friend’s self-centred, egotistical, vain and selfish behaviour.
Simon would spend over an hour in the bathroom getting ready to go out, then once they’d arrived at the disco, nightclub or wherever, Simon’s eyes would invariably begin to wander, as he checked out all the other cute guys. Chances were that Simon would spend much of the evening dancing with other men, leaving Colin standing patiently on the sidelines.
The final straw came one day when Colin had come home early to find Simon in bed with a twink he’d picked up from goodness knows where. Although Colin knew that Simon cheated on him, actually catching him in the act was just too much for Colin to cope with. Colin had quickly gathered his clothes together, cramming them into a couple of suitcases, as Simon and his latest penis-touting airhead watched from the bed.
Colin removed the door key from his key-chain, flung it at Simon, and stormed out of the flat, never to return.
Colin had moved in with a buddy from work, his friend being surprised, but not unaccepting, of his homosexuality.
“Hey, man, how the hell can you be gay? You’re six foot three and built like a brick shithouse,” Max had told the brown-haired brown-eyed Colin.
Although Colin appreciated Max putting him up, he had grown increasingly uncomfortable, not to say horny, when Max brought back his dates and screwed them rather loudly for half the night, the thin wall that separated his and Max’s bedrooms doing little to dull the noise of squeaking bedsprings.
“Thanks, it makes life a lot less stressful, but maybe not quite as interesting, if I know what I’m about to open up for dinner,” Martin said.
“Huh?” Colin said, then realised he’d been wool gathering. “Sure, no problem.”
Martin moved towards the little box he kept on the worktop, which held his stock of Braille labels. Each label consisted of a rectangle of plastic with two holes at the top; through which a loop of elastic chord was threaded. When Martin had used the tin, packet or whatever, he would remove the label and put it in the box. He’d told Colin that the box acted as his shopping list.
The two men began to go through the groceries, Colin telling Martin what each item was as he pulled it out. Martin would attach the correct label to the jar, can, or whatever, and set it to one side.
“These are the cooked meats you asked for,” Colin said coming across three packets of sliced meat. “Want me to put them in alphabetical order?”
There were four ounces each of ham, pork and beef. “Okay, the beef is on the top, ham in the middle, and pork at the bottom,” Colin said, handing them to Martin.
Their hands touched momentarily. Colin noticed the contact was held a fraction of a second longer than was usual. His arms ached to hold the smaller man, protect him, tell him everything would be all right, but he knew he couldn’t go round hugging his customers; many of them would take offence.
Martin took the packets of cooked meat and turned away, but not before Colin saw the stray tear run down his cheek. Colin’s desire to hold Martin became almost irresistible.
“Oh,” he remembered, “there’s the frozen turkey leg you ordered, it’s still in the van’s freezer,” he said, leaving Martin’s house to retrieve it.
Once outside, Colin used the few seconds in the cold to get a hold of himself. Retrieving the frozen food, he returned to Martin’s kitchen.
“Here we are.”
“Thanks,” Martin said, putting the poultry in the bottom drawer of his freezer.
“And finally,” Colin said, trying to lighten the mood, “Your Christmas pudding.” It looked so pathetic in the palm of his hand. Yet more evidence that Martin would be eating alone this Christmas. He tried, probably unsuccessfully, to keep the happy tone in his voice.
“Oh yeah, not that much of a fan of Christmas pud, but you’ve got to make the effort, I suppose,” Martin said, obviously trying to remain upbeat himself.
“Yeah, know what you mean. My housemate’s girlfriend is coming round to cook us lunch on Christmas Day, but it’ll be a case of two’s company, and three’s, well ...”
“You’re very welcome to come and eat here with me and Toby,” Martin said quickly.
“Oh, I wouldn’t want to put you out.” Colin thought politeness dictated he should make the token protest.
“You’d be very welcome. Toby is great company, but he isn’t all that good at pulling crackers.”
Yet again came the desire to protect. “Well, if you’re sure.”