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MARCH 2005

> COSH BOYS FROM THE WEST END | caroline wilson

Beautiful young men stand in small groups on street corners, immaculately dressed like Edwardian teddies, staring down the ancient buildings that dare to rise above them which seem to be crumbling before their eyes with age, trembling to sustain the bits of beauty that remained in their arches. In those walls, boys selling their bodies to pay the rent, giving themselves to older men who, like those beautiful aging structures denying their own mortality, refuse to be seen as anything less than deserving of czars, of the royalty they’ve known in these dirty streets - princes disguised as rent boys, their blue blood covered with bones and sinews below the bruised knuckles and black eyes. Young boys like countesses, bodies like Myrons, smooth as marble. Nude backs arched as they kneel and sweat behind theatres, in alleyways and strangers’ beds. They stride through town like dandies on holiday. Their jokes keep strangers at a proper distance, and their quiet cynicism keeps them happy. When their neighbors are off to bed, they are off to a fête. When their fathers are catching the train into the city, they are catching the train home - sleepily chatting or dozing in each other’s laps, rejoicing in a life without money, but a life with charm and style. They do not sleep on silk but they sleep with someone who stayed with them when what they had together was all they had, and that was worth more than rubies.

Arm in arm, speaking gravely and close like lovers, looking like a reflection of the heavens, they walk like world travelers down the streets they grew up on and never left, out of spite, because when they were children they had promised they would leave, and never come back to their parents’ pristine houses of furniture as old and ugly as their hearts and those dimming lights. But then they had found each other. Like searchlights in a dark and endless sea, they had rescued one another from what none of them could see but only felt in the asphalt and floorboards of dirty one-room apartments where they slept and ate and drank their way into the beds of strange men when they had no where else to go. And so they had stayed, as a way of denying that they ever had a reason to wish for far off shores. Now they have each other and that is enough.

They pass girls with looks like begging on their faces, and only push their hands deeper in their pockets, unaware. They speak in verse more often than not, quoting poetry or the plays they’ve memorized and have acted out in real life for their lovers. They did not live lives out of a story book. They did not marry at 22 or find a little white house in a quaint little neighborhood. They live in one- or two-bedroom apartments, and sleep three to a bed, saved not by their maker who made them far less than the perfection they deserve and have discovered with their minds and bodies (just not in their souls), but saved by each other. Boys who would die for their friends, and more than just once, if it meant that one day their broken hearts will pump untainted blood. The diseases that hide in their veins will one day vanish. Washed up, rinsed out. Flushed clean.

> BIOGRAPHY | about the author

Caroline Wilson is an art student at the University of Louisville and may eventually submit some artwork to us. We hope she will.