This wasn't the sort of thing you would expect of a quiet, normally trouble-free gay cabaret bar. James launched himself out of the front door onto the rain soaked Soho back-street and brought up his entire dinner into the gutter. Regardless of the rain he then sat himself on the kerb resting his elbows on his knees and stared incredulously at a cigarette packet as it was washed under his legs towards the nearest drain grating, where it stopped, unable to fall through to the depths below.
Mascara ran down his cheeks. Although he was unable to cry, the rain ensured he looked a mess. Quite unusual for him, but then, this wasn't your usual night.
He was trembling, but the cold rain soaking the patterned shirt on his back had nothing to do with it.
Passers-by stopped and stared momentarily then continued their journeys muttering among themselves. Some of the louder comments penetrated his claustrophobic world, but where they would normally trigger a barrage of expletives from him, tonight they went unchallenged.
"Gay-boy's lovers tiff!"
Suddenly someone else exploded onto the street. It was the grossly overweight Licensee, Daisy. Someone had called him that across the bar three years ago as a joke. The delicate little flower was the complete opposite of the picture Arthur painted. The name just stuck with him ever since.
"My god! Who could have done such a thing? Are you alright? I've called the police."
James just sat and stared into the gutter, too numb to respond. Daisy placed his heavy hands on James's shoulders and squeezed them gently.
"What a terrible thing to walk into. It was all going so well till this happened. Have you been sick? Christ! Oh, this is going to do the place a world of good, isn't it? Once this gets out people are going to avoid coming in at all. Why MY bar? Somebody hates me up there!"
"You what?" James twisted himself round to look up into Daisy's eyes. Instantly Daisy regretted speaking his thoughts aloud. They remained staring at each other like that until the first of the flashing blue lights drew their attention away from each other's eyes.