The bigger they come, the harder they fall ... in love.
Cambridge academic Larry Morton takes one, alcohol-glazed look at the huge, tattooed man looming in a dark alley, and assumes he’s done for. Moments later he finds himself disarmed -- literally and figuratively. Next morning, he can’t rest until he’s apologised to the man who turned out to be more gentle than giant.
Larry’s intrigued to find there’s more to Al Fletcher than meets the eye; he possesses a natural artistic talent that shines through untutored technique. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see the sensitive soul beneath Al’s imposing, scarred, undeniably sexy exterior. Least of all Larry’s class-conscious family, who would like nothing better than to split up this mismatched pair.
It’s deliciously physical, but also much more -- which makes Larry’s next task so daunting. Not just convincing his colleagues, friends, and family that their relationship is more than skin deep. It’s convincing Al.
“Did you know you have the most incredibly sinister smile?” Lawrence said after a bit. He put his elbows on the table and leaned over toward me again. “It’s that scar by your mouth -- sort of twists. I think that’s what really scared the shit out of me last night -- your smile.”
I frowned, because why would anyone be scared of a smile? “You got a lovely smile,” I said, because I knew that was true. He went all pink. “Are you a poof?” I asked. I didn’t think he’d mind. And even if he did, there wasn’t nothing a little bloke like him could do to me, so that was all right.
“Er, yes. I hope that’s not a problem?” His ears went so red it was like they was sunburnt, and he leaned back a bit.
“Nah. I’m a poof and all.”
Lawrence laughed. “You know, you’re really rather refreshingly direct.” He didn’t say nothing for a minute, just put his elbows on the table again and played with the beer mats. “So, have you, er, got a partner?”
“Nah. I had this bloke, Ryan, but we split up.”
“Oh. What was he like?”
I had to think about it. See, I could have drawn him a picture easy, but I didn’t have a pencil. “Little,” I said. “And pretty.” I smiled, remembering, ’cause I’d thought Ryan was really pretty, but Lawrence was much prettier.
“Oh,” said Lawrence. His shoulders went a bit stiff. “That’s the sort of men you find attractive?”
I didn’t say nothing, because there Lawrence was sitting in front of me and he was perfect, but I knew I couldn’t say that, because it’d get awkward. I knew he wouldn’t fancy me or nothing.
He was building card houses with the beer mats. I couldn’t do nothing like that. My hands are too big and clumsy, ’cept when I’ve got a pencil or a brush in them. ’Course, Lawrence couldn’t bench press the table we were sitting at, neither. “Would you ... Would you consider going out with someone like me?” he asked without looking at me.
Someone like him? That was all right, because then we weren’t talking about him. “Yeah, but someone like you wouldn’t go for a bloke like me.”
He looked up then. “Why not?”
“Someone like you’d want someone he could talk to. Not someone thick as pigshit.”
He looked at me like I’d told him he was a wanker or something. “We’ve been talking just fine.”
I had to think about that. ’Cause it was true, we’d been talking for ages, and he didn’t look like he was bored. I smiled. Then I remembered what he’d said and wondered if I should stop smiling, but I thought, what the hell.
“The last thing I want on a date is intellectual conversation,” Lawrence carried on. “I get quite enough of that at work -- bloody Hardwicke with his well, of course, if you want to take the simplistic view of the Renaissance.” Lawrence put on a funny voice for that bit. I thought he probably didn’t like that Hardwicke bloke much. Then he downed his drink in one. I probably should have told him to slow down, ’cause of how he’d been last night, but I didn’t want to make him not like me so much, so I didn’t. “Come back to my place. We’ll get a takeaway -- you like Chinese?” I nodded. I love Chinese. He laughed. “We’ll probably need to order the banquet for four, the size you are.” He got up, and so did I, and then he said, “And while we’re there, maybe you can tell me what happened to my kitchen knives? I haven’t been able to find them since last night!”
So we went back to his place, and we had a Chinese takeaway, and we watched old Charlie Chaplin films. I like them ’cause you don’t have to be clever to get the jokes. I never thought someone smart like Lawrence would like them too.
And it got a bit late, and I thought, well, Larry’s a poof -- see, he said I could call him Larry, ’cause nobody else did -- and he keeps smiling at me, so maybe I should make a move? So I put my arm round him and pulled him close, but he sort of shivered, so I let go again. I didn’t want him to start shaking like last night.
“No, come back,” Larry said, and he snuggled into my side. I liked that. Then he reached up and kissed me, and I liked that more, so I put my arm round him again and pulled him onto my lap.