Smacking bare ass was no crime, of course. Not even when it was same-sex smacking. Nowadays anything went, did it not? Well, except when you were the sole male heir to an affluent French businessman. Which, as it happened, was precisely what Thomas Malgrave was. Complete with all the finest education that money (and pedigree) could buy. Unlike the boy who would turn out to be his “constant companion,” Philippe Demarché. Although the two had orbited the same boarding schools for many years, it wasn’t until they found themselves attending a certain university in Paris together that their closeness was cemented. Even if their backgrounds were a world apart.
For, while Thomas had his life of privilege handed to him by “birthright,” Philippe was at the mercy of bureaucratic goodwill, forever relying on governmental “handouts” and scholarships. “Fucking off” was not an option for him the way it was for Thomas, who proved to be quite a temptation in this regard for Philippe. After all, Thomas was constantly urging Philippe to just join him for a “quick drink” or “little museum outing” that would end up taking the whole day. Or, if drugs were involved (and they usually were), sometimes the whole week.
At first, Philippe found that he was able to easily manage these impromptu social engagements with his studies. But after only a few months spent down Thomas’ rabbit hole of decadence and excess–which, to Thomas, was garden variety–Philippe found himself struggling. Worse still, not caring that he was struggling. Suddenly, school seemed quaint, a waste of time. For that’s how Thomas made it seem, along with his many additional lackeys of privilege. They, too, exuded an attitude of non-concern toward just about everything; an attitude that didn’t take long to infect Philippe. Against all his better judgment–in spite of knowing, deep in his bones, that if he fucked things up for himself, there would be no parental cushion, no one there to fall back on when he needed money, shelter, a job. All things that came so effortlessly to Thomas and his kind that to imagine life could be any other way was impossible for him.
Maybe if it had been imaginable, Thomas wouldn’t have pushed Philippe so far over into the dark side. Which Philippe took to like a newborn to a nipple. And Philippe, unlike many newborns, was not discriminate about the tit from which he would suck. MDMA one night, amphetamines the next. Or a glorious cocktail of whatever Thomas felt like distributing to others. It was getting to the point where Philippe no longer knew which end was up, and he had the sense (or he would have the sense… if any of them were still intact) that Thomas wanted it that way. That he was working up toward some behavior he knew neither would partake of if they were sober.
And one particular night, long after Philippe’s grades had dropped so low that he lost his scholarship and was forced to leave the school, Thomas at last seemed to think the time was right. None of their other friends (or “friends,” in Philippe’s case) were present in the Malgrave mansion, and Thomas had just pumped Philippe full of a wondrous combination of shrooms and Ativan. He was therefore both hyper-sentient and not at all. The perfect conditions for Thomas, only slightly tipsy from several glasses of his father’s finest whiskey, to experiment in. Allowing him to lean ever so slightly forward on the Isfahan rug his mother had chosen to coordinate with the so-called decor as Philippe rocked back and forth with a dullard’s expression. There was a fireplace in front of the rug. Yes, a private fireplace just for Thomas’ room. He might have decided to host his tryst in the living room where the grander fireplace was, but he was afraid his parents might burst in the house at any moment even though they were meant to be in St. Tropez for the weekend. That was the level of fear instilled within him of getting caught. Being seen for who he truly was by the very people that should want to see, but instead did everything in their power to avoid noticing. Digging too deeply into the nature of who (or “what”) their son really was.
As Philippe continued to descend into an alternate dimension, Thomas leaned forward even more to kiss the mouth he had been fantasizing about for months now–hell, maybe even years. Perhaps, when Thomas truly admitted it to himself, he had been in love with Philippe since the beginning of time–since before either of them had even been born. Somewhere within, he could intuit that Philippe felt the same. And this was Thomas’ greatest chance yet to ascertain if that might really be the case. So there he was, all at once placing his lips firmly on Philippe’s and grabbing haphazardly for his groin to unzip the peasantly pants he was wearing. It was then, as he felt at the tatters–the threadbareness of the garment–that he could feel his erection getting stronger. In this moment, he pushed the thought away, for it would mean acknowledging that a large part of him got off on Philippe being poor. On, for once, being someone more in control in the power dynamic. Because all his life, it was Mr. Malgrave who had the control, the dominance to get anyone to do what he wanted, including his only son. Thomas believed because he was from a higher “station,” he wielded that kind of power over Philippe.
It didn’t take more than a few seconds of kissing and grabbing him for Thomas to realize that simply was not the case. As though shaken immediately from his drug reverie by the unwanted advance, Philippe recoiled right at the moment when Mr. Malgrave entered the room. So much for St. Tropez. Philippe, looking disoriented to the point of being totally out of his mind, shouted–ostensibly at both Malgraves Sr. and Jr.–“What the fuck?” Mr. Malgrave drew closer, staring daggers the entire time at Thomas. “Yes, my thoughts exactly. I’ll direct the question to you, Thomas. What the fuck?”
Despite his best attempts to pin the blame of the homosexual display on Philippe, the latter was, surprisingly, exonerated in Mr. Malgrave’s eyes. For it’s usually because the “number one son” can do no wrong in a wealthy daddy’s eyes that blame is comfortably shifted onto everyone and anyone else. Not in this scenario. Mr. Malgrave was so livid about the notion of his son being a queer that it was something he couldn’t use the classic “Rich Person’s Denial Method” to ignore away. He had to nip it in the bud, and fast. Philippe, he decided, would be a valuable instrument in that project.
After using his pull to get Philippe re-enrolled at the university, the latter was putty in Mr. Malgrave’s hands–but instructed not to let on any such thing to Thomas. Instead, he was told to go on acting accessible yet aloof to Thomas. Somehow not knowing any better, Thomas took the bait like a country rat rather than a city one. He should have known better, foreseen that something was not quite right about Philippe’s comportment. That it had all the trappings of a setup. More suspect still was the fact that Philippe was back in school. Although he claimed he begged for another chance to prove himself, Thomas was aware that the university wasn’t so forgiving of academic indiscretions, least of all when perpetrated by their non-affluent students. Even so, Thomas was just grateful to see him again every day. He was terrified that, after the incident at Malgrave mansion, Philippe wouldn’t speak to him anymore. Yet it was quite the contrary, even if their friendship was now characterized by a palpable distance that wasn’t there before.
Somewhat shockingly, it appeared as though Philippe remembered more about the night in question than Thomas, iterating, once again, that alcohol is the ultimate “Forget Me Now” drug. According to Philippe’s account, it was after Mr. Malgrave walked in and saw something close to “foul play” going on that Philippe casually excused himself and told Mr. Malgrave he believed he was going to be sick, and needed to leave right away. Though he didn’t say it aloud during the storytelling process, Thomas knew that it wasn’t the drugs that made him throw up all over Mr. Malgrave’s Gucci shoes on the way out, but the imprinted sense-memory of Thomas’ mouth all over Philippe’s. It disgusted the latter to no end, and it only took about a week for him to start hanging around a notorious “school slut” named Esmée, as though to parade his heterosexuality for the sole benefit of Thomas.
Obviously, it was a fucking torture, especially since Thomas had tasted of the sweet nectar that had, at the very least, never been known to him before. Now that it was, he wanted to taste it all the more–and with ten times the amount of voraciousness. Seeing Philippe instead parade Esmée and her hickeys through the halls like some kind of trophy was enough to drive Thomas mad. And maybe it did. How else could he explain, one day, out of nowhere, whilst the two were on a bike ride through the streets of Paris together, freely and openly sidling up to the bicycle, pushing Philippe right off it, pulling his pants down and smacking his bare ass with abandon? As mentioned before: smacking bare ass was no crime. But it tended to be when it was so publicly against the person’s consent. Not only that, but Thomas was a very public figure as a result of being the son of one. And never in Mr. Malgrave’s wildest dreams could he have envisioned his son would humiliate him with such impunity. As though he had no awareness of his surname at all. But oh, how he was going to be punished. Mr. Malgrave was ready to flog Thomas to death himself if necessary.
And then came all the positive headlines, spinning the incident as a “passionate romp” between Thomas and his erstwhile secret lover, whom he had only kept secret out of shame. The shame that his own father had made him feel. The media went on to further decry Mr. Malgrave for “making” Thomas hide his “character” for so long until finally needing to have an outburst of this nature in the public space in order to fully express his sexual identity. It was, frankly, the last thing Mr. Malgrave was expecting. But, as usual, he was willing to roll with any punches necessary to keep the family business profitable by keeping it up with “the times.” Times that were, evidently, demanding a spokesperson just like Thomas for the company. Who would have thought his formerly useless son would turn out to be so, well, useful? In turn, by the laws of divine retribution, Philippe was presently showing himself to be dispensable via his resistance to acting as Thomas’ beard. Even though Mr. Malgrave was offering him more financial incentive now than when he first wanted to pay Philippe off to help him catch his son in the full act of being a homo. Except, post-bare ass smacking in public, Thomas was aware of his father’s attempts at a payout for Philippe to be his “boyfriend.” While Thomas might have had pride about this matter were he not born into circumstances that made him incapable of understanding discomfiture and embarrassment, he had no such thing when it came to doing whatever it took to “get biblical” with Philippe. Or, at the minimum, sucking him off, as Thomas had planned to that night he drugged Philippe out of his gourd.
After offering him what Mr. Malgrave called an “obscene” amount for nothing more than agreeing to a few monthly appearances together in high-profile places, Philippe consented to the deal, avowing no physical contact was to be a part of it. Alas, one evening, after a black-tie event at Palais Garnier, Thomas cajoled Philippe, who was in unusually good spirits, back to Malgrave mansion. Pouring him a drink that, of course, was laced with Rohypnol (honestly, what did Philippe expect?), Thomas handed it to his “beloved” with a sinister smile. One that Philippe didn’t notice until it was too late. But one taste of the drink and its instantaneous effect, and he knew he had made a (Mal)grave mistake, written in the ghoulish grin of his host who was, all at once, turning him over, ripping his pants off–always ripping his pants off–and penetrating him from behind. Philippe, barely present any longer, had one small thought before disappearing entirely into the blackness of his mind: you can never trust the terms of an arrangement made with the lackeys of privilege, for they are bound by that sense of privilege to always–no matter what–get what they want.