Lewis had little energy, so instead of
running he simply jogged or walked, depending on his mood. He looked as
if he was lost and had given up. He was also rather self-conscious of
how bedraggled and unclean he looked. He felt even more insecure when a
neighbour would see him and act concerned. He jogged some more.
Once he found the house he was looking for, he broke into a desperate
run. He stopped right in front of the front door and began banging on
it. "JACK! JACK LEMME IN! WHAT'S GOIN' ON? YA NEED TA TELL ME! PLEASE!"
"Pipe down! You're disturbin' tha peace!" Jack angrily retorted. This
confused Lewis. The voice clearly originated outside but he couldn't
see him. Then the bedraggled brunette saw the closed garden gate on the
side of the house.
"Jack?" he asked, jogging towards it.
"Nope! Dante wai'in' for Virgil. Whaddya wan'?"
He could see the blonde through the gaps of the wooden gate, albeit not
too well. He was slowly taking off soiled gardening gloves.
"Please, I jus' wan' some answers. Everybody keeps changin' an' Matthew
called Leslie tellin' 'im ta take me somewhere." The figure through the
gate came towards him. "I'm sicka not knowin' an' I was so scared I
stayed in ma room for 5 days...I think." He noticed that Jack was now
within arm's reach of the gate. "Is it true what Tyson said? You in on
The gate opened. Lewis found himself frozen by the sharp leer of the
taller man's blue eyes. His white-blonde hair had not been well
groomed. But the suddenly-shy brunette noticed some other astounding
things: Jack was wearing a clay tank top that clung to him and outlined
his muscular torso perfectly. His bare arms bore tattoos. His
camo-pants clung to his waist.
"Tell you what," began Jack easily, startling Lewis after such a long
silence, "I'll tell you everythin' so long's you quit gawkin' at me."
With that, he mechanically stood aside and cocked his head to invite
the brunette in.
Walking through the small garden, Lewis could see where Jack had been
working. It seemed he had been weeding. From the picturesque garden he
followed Jack through the back door and into the kitchen. What struck
the visitor was how cold and spartan the room was. The fridge-freezer,
cupboards, drawers, cabinets, the cooker, the sink and most surfaces
were metallic and silvery. The kitchen table was made of black wood. It
was scrupulously tidy, aside from the fridge-freezer doors, which
were decorated by various photos and children's drawings held up by
flourescently coloured magnets. One piece of paper had a sentence
written on it in capital letters, but obviously written by a child:
'The pants were dead'.
"Where d'ya think all the kids come from?" the blonde abruptly asked.
Lewis shrugged uncertainly. "Depends...either adoption or by a
surrogate mother." His tone grew more confused since Jack just shook
his head. The native started lowering his trousers, causing the
brunette to blush. "Uh...what..?"
The blonde gave him a sharp look, holding his clothing items apart. The
visitor was surprised by the long scar on the lower abdomen. "What
d'you call this?"
"It's...not...a C-Section? Can't be."
Jack righted his clothes. "Believe it." He sat down on a chair; all the
chairs in this room were plain and uniform. He gestured for Lewis to
sit down as well. "I was the first. I was pregnant twice before the
uterus had ta be removed."
Lewis seemed alarmed. "He don't kill women for their-"
Jack laughed riotously. "No! Matthew ain't a killer. He gets access
to'n Uke's medical files ta find out 'is blood type. Don't ask how, I'm
not sure. There are lotsa women on the donor's list an' Matthew can
just put in a demand for a uterus o' some blood type an' 'e gets a call
when one's available. All legit, simple as that. What ain't legal is
the male pregnancy, it's banned if you didn't know."
"And you did it anyway?"
"One meetin' at the Semes Club-an' Matthew weren't president then-he
comes along with this suggestion. Says the risks, why it's worth it,
bla bla bla. Ivan comes home an' suggests it ta me." Jack looked more
forlorn. "I'd come ta terms with Dad's death, but I still didn't wanna
leave tha house. I got restless 'cos I had nothin' ta do."
"You had kids to have somethin' ta do?" pressed an outraged Lewis.
"Pretty much." The parent seemed emotional suddenly. "Pregnancy was tha
best thing that happened ta me. Made me take proper care o' maself for
the first time since Kosovo and..." He smiled. "Ta feel a life inside
"Didn't mean ya had ta look all...housewifey." The bedraggled brunette wrinkled his nose in disgust.
"You're right, an' I didn't." He smirked at the noise made by Lewis' stomach. "Hungry?"
"Didn't eat much," responded the embarrassed visitor quietly.
Jack stood up and went to a cupboard. "Soon after Joey gave birth to
Serenity the Governor came ta visit." He took out an opened box with
chocolate stains on one side. He continued talking while he closed the
door and found a suitable knife. "I didn't look like how we all meant ta dress
now but Joey an' I were definitely casual, wearin' whites an' baby
blues. He's always been a casual dresser anyway. Yeah that's right,
Joey's the second volunteer." Jack handed Lewis the knife before
removing the card platter the cake was placed on out of the box.
"But 'e acts as weird-"
"He's convincin' cuz 'e was a professional actor." The blonde sat down
again. "Don't worry 'bout tha mess, jus' cut a slice an' eat." Jack
continued talking while Lewis cut a slice and he simply held it in his
hand as he ate. "What impressed the Governor was that becomin'
mommies...well we became mommies, that's exactly it. He liked it cuz it
proved that gays were not jus' men who were immoral an' jus' wan'ed ta
sleep around an' all that other shit. What made 'im decide that all gay couples should follow
the formula-Uke become mommy that is-was that Alan came along and 'e
scowled like crazy. Callin' me names an' sayin' I was traitor an'
weirdo an' other crap. I don't think 'e meant it, I think 'e was jus'
real mad that day." He frowned. "Actually he was mad most o' the time
'e was sobre. Anyway, Governor asked who that was an' I answered
honestly: the town drunk. He knew said drunk's sexuality by Alan
wearin' a Gay Pride T-shirt. So in the presence o' Matthew, Ivan, me
an' baby Molly, he ordered Matthew ta make sure all Ukes become mommies
and in return, 'e would make sure Matthew got fundin' for the project,
which would be kept secret, an' the town of Stepmanford became homo
heaven. We already got several lesbians here ta back that up. Within
tha next 2 months every true homophobe in this town moved out."
"So what...changed everyone?"
"Simple, they're hypnotised. Ivan's a professional hypnotist, a fact
the town hides from every new gay couple until they're completely
Lewis chewed on his slice of cake, disgesting this. "How many..."
"I ain't bothered ta count. There are less hypnotised lesbians than
homos, the lesbians got bribed and threatened ta conform to that
stereotypical breadwinner an' housewife duo. Whoever got tha most money
decided the breadwinner if both women'd been pregnant. V was the third
volunteer." Jack smiled in glee at his guest's shocked reaction. "Hard
ta believe but 'e's really like that. Oh an' Ed's still 'imself. Ivan
came 'ome that day real happy. He didn't 'ave ta change someone. After
'is run-in with you an' Tyson at that parkin' lot, 'e came cryin' round
'ere 'bout actin' different in front of his friends. Sad really." Lewis
couldn't tell if his host was being genuine or sarcastic.
"He must've practiced lots ta put on that act," muttered the
photographer thoughtfully. He shoved the last morsel of cake into his
"I'm guessin' 'e did."
"I still don't get why the Ukes 'ere are dressed all..." Lewis could only gesture faintly.
"In every gay couple one just instantly plays the dominant guy. There's
always some excuse: he's taller, he's older, more confident, the better
dresser, the angry one or 'e was jus' one rank above the Uke when the
couple met at work." Jack shrugged. "Always a reason. How the Ukes 'ave
ta dress, they have ta look more feminine, boyish or both and
definitely more innocent. Like a buncha dolls we are."
The blonde beamed a smirk. "I'll take that as a compliment. But I'm the
messed-up blonde with issues who needs tall, dark an' 'andsome ta calm
'im down." He said this almost seductively.
Lewis shook his head. "Why does Ivan hypnotise Ukes if 'e don't wanna?"
"Cuz this state don't allow gay marriage. If Ivan says no, Matthew
tells Security our marriage is a sham, Ivan loses his work permit 'n'
then 'e's sent back to Yugoslavia. Neither of us wants that ta 'appen!"
Jack looked rather vicious. "Jus' for him, I can only beg you. Please
go along with it. Then you can be yourself at 'ome. And here, no pryin'
"No!" He stood up. "I don't wanna skip around like some introverted mommy-bimbo, not ever! Don't I get no other choice?"
"Sure. You can leave."
"Leave this town. You said Matthew wants you in. You jus' run home,
don't pack, get in the car and keep drivin' 'til you're in a motel 50
"What about Leslie?"
"He's already bribed."
"I dunno, it's different with every one. He woulda been blackmailed by somethin' he
really cares about. If you wanna convince 'im ta leave, do it over the
phone an' outta town. And you'd better go soon, looks like rain's about
Lewis looked dumbstruck. Slowly, he turned around to face the garden.
"Not that way." Jack dragged him to his front door. "Jus' run 'ome.
Don't stop ta talk to anybody, every Seme an' Uke will've been ordered
to bring y'in. The fact you came 'ere an' told me he wants you means I
shoulda kept you here 'til they came ta pick you up." The panicking
visitor whirled in alarm. "Calm down, I never called anyone." The host
opened the door. "Go, hurry."
Lewis launched into a street dimmed by the grey sky.
The rain had already started once Lewis dragged himself
huffing-and-puffing home. Some of the lights were on, so he could only
guess how hard it was to see inside. He sauntered to the back of the
house. The rope he had made had been pulled in and the window shut. He
knelt next to the backdoor, watching Leslie sorting out clothes into
piles (clean, dirty, tattered). The rain only got harder. The phone
rang so Leslie quickly left the kitchen. Lewis opened the door and shut
"Hey Matthew," greeted Leslie outside. He explained in detail how he'd
been clearing up the mess in his bedroom since discovering Lewis'
disappearance, while the mentioned person crept through the kitchen.
Lewis was alarmed to find that any trace of Mojo's existence had
vanished. "Hasn't anyone seen 'im? I don't like it, people don't just
disappear. ... I knew somethin' would go wrong once 'e started diggin'
up your trail." Leslie suddenly yelled and fell to the floor, gripping
the back of his head.
"Leslie?" shouted Matthew's voice over the phone. "What happened?"
The blonde rolled over and gasped at the sight of a dripping wet madman pointing a gun at him.
"WHERE'S MY DOG?"
"WHERE D'YOU GET THAT GUN!?" (Good question) screamed a frightened Leslie, still gripping where he had been hit.
"I AIN'T TELLIN' YOU!" snarled Lewis. "WHERE'S MOJO?" He quickly picked
up the dropped phone and pressed it to his ear. He dropped it in
disappointment. "Hung up." He ran towards the door, tore it open and
ran out into the pouring rain.
Lewis stalked the street. The rain meant that everyone stayed indoors.
He still had the gun, which made him seem like a killer on the loose.
But his eyes weren't angry, just desperate. He shivered as he saw the
familiar entrance to the mansion where Matthew ruled the Semes. He kept
plodding, towards that sign. 'Proud Men's Major Association', declared
the plaque proudly. Or menacingly, in the dim light. The wet
gun-wielder just stood still at the open gates to the mansion. He
stared ahead. No police car. The lights...it seemed that the same
lights were switched on as the time Mojo ran in here accidentally.
Lewis shivered again. He ran desperately along the drive. It didn't take him long to find the front door and go inside.
The door shut with a thunderous slam. All sound seemed to have drowned
out. He could only hear his own breath. He was met with the sight of a
grand open floor, large windows, long-stretching balconies and grand
staircases. He could also make out shapes of leather sofas, positioned
like in any reception lobby. Perhaps the scene would have been inviting
if the lights were switched on, but it was so gloomy. Upstairs, there
was a tiny source of light. A dog barked.
Lewis darted up the stairs. He ran along the upstairs balcony, chasing
after the light. The source was still small. He could hear another
bark. He could now see that the light was coming from a room, with its
door left invitingly open. He moved towards the open door. He was
sneaking along, sliding along the wall. A dog barked again. Right
beside the door, he hesitated. His grip on the gun tightened. Lewis
jumped into the open space, pointing his gun at the man sitting between
two desk lamps, the only sources of light in the room. A dog barked
from somewhere again. Marius picked up a remote and pressed a button to
switch off the hi-fi system. (Whoops! Did I say Marius?)
"Welcome Lewis." He was not in the least perturbed by the sight of the trembling gun pointed at him.
"I know what you do," said the dripping wet intruder tightly. "I jus' can't figure out why."
Matthew didn't even twitch. "I kept a promise to Simon." He sat back
against his chair. "I was good at science, wan'ed ta be a professional
worker. The trouble is, as you know, we are discriminated against. So
deciding to be a gynaecologist was a stroke of genius." He grinned.
"Who would believe a charge of sexual assault by a woman against a gay
man?" The blonde began to look forlorn. "Simon also thought that
clever. He laughed even. After seein' each other for 3 years at least,
he asked me if there was any way possible for men to be pregnant. He
loved me so much 'e wan'ed ta carry ma child somehow. Soon
after...months had flown by, we got viciously attacked. When I saw
Simon again, he was just a body in the morgue."
... Lewis had stepped into the office a short way, somehow entranced by
the story. Matthew took a breath before carrying on. "The thing is,
Simon hit on something. He pointed out to me that we are feared simply
because some people see us as strange, a completely different race
even. If somehow we could have a characteristic...what do the most
conservative and religious heterosexuals see as a natural conclusion of
a romance? Children. So I promised Simon I would find a way to do it,
he made me promise to do it even if it took me so long it would be too
late for him. Health or age you know? Doing that research was what kept
me going after 'is death. And look at the results. Jack was much
happier after becoming a..." He chuckled. "Maternal parent, for lack of
a better term. The overall results are, even though I had ta make
ethically-challenging decisions, wonderful. We have a true haven here.
Gays are accepted."
Lewis nodded. "Ethically challenged is right. Through one way or
another every gay person here is forced ta do somethin'. Rather than
lettin' people broaden their views, you've just reinforced a
Matthew tensed. "In order to make this all possible a compromise was necessary." He slowly stood up.
The gun was visibly cocked. "Jus' tell me where Mojo is so I can leave!"
The blonde patronisingly looked at the wet man. "You're not serious
about using that, are you? You've left tha safety on and it's unloaded."
Lewis was still staring as if to say 'You've got to be kidding me'. He
slowly slowly inspected the gun he was holding. Indeed it had no
Viciously, he gripped it by the barrel and held it up. "I can still use it! Where's my dog?"
"Mojo's with Edward, he's quite safe."
Lewis dropped his arm in a huff. "Thanks." He turned around
and-surprisingly-found Ivan standing in the doorway. The Slav was
giving him a regretful look. He faced Matthew angrily, ready to go on a
"Be reasonable Lewis." Matthew slowly stepped around his desk, towards
the wet brunette. "It would be easier if you simply go along with this.
It is better for tha community ta have individuals and varied
personalities. We like you how you are, really, we do. It would be
better for Ivan, he really hates changing people against their will.
And it is better for Leslie." Lewis faltered. Matthew was
now standing directly in front of him. "Leslie loves you dearly,"
he crooned. "He would so hate it if he's forced ta make a choice
between his love and his ideal life. He likes it here and he wants you
in the picture. And think how much he's done for you the entire time
you've known him, do you really want to throw all that away? ... Could
you really live without him?"
The gun dropped. Lewis stood there, trembling and sobbing. He fell to
his knees and cried. The situation was just so...hopeless. He found
himself being embraced and cried against Matthew's offered shoulder.
"There, there," comforted the Seme leader. He tenderly stroked Lewis'
damp hair. "It'll be alright. Any choices you make after this one will
be your own."
"I'm scared," cried the brunette into Matthew's shoulder. "I can't change who I am-"
The blonde soothingly shushed him. "Don't worry about that for now, all
you need ta do is relax. My assistants are here; let them show you your
room, they will take good care of you, I promise."
Lewis sniffled before lifting his tear-streaked, puffy face. Ivan had
disappeared. There were now 2 young women in proper nursing attire
standing at the door. Both kept their long, straight hair hanging down
loosely. One had blonde hair and blue eyes; she stood with an air of
calm and professionalism. The other's hair was carrot-orange, her blue
eyes were icier and she seemed rather eager to please.
"Hi," smiled the redhead in greeting. "I'm Emi an' this is Winry." Her accent gave away she was a local.