JaLL – The dual story of Bruce – act 2: Love and confusion

Read my introduction here
Read act 1 here

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The act 2 get up, much more stiff and tense. But still defiantly Bruce. Foto: Petter Karlsson

I’m just gonna continue like you know what this is about, so you should at least read the act one post, if you haven’t.

In the planning between acts me and Daniel (I’ll use people’s characters names here) agreed that they had dated for a few months after the party, but then Daniel just stopped returning calls and kind of disappeared as he had a habit of. It was also decided that Sinclair died a few months before the next party. So during that year Bruce was abandoned in his first attempt at a relationship and lost his close friend, a man he thought was invulnerable, but he also realized how little he knew Sinclair and even worse no one knew the real Bruce (whoever that was). This marked the beginning of the second story I experienced: the fear of loneliness.

Me and Mickey also decided that Mickey had lived with Bruce that year and gradually Bruce started showing him of as his boyfriend, but also started building up Mickey to a level where Bruce could be seen with this young man. “I can’t just date anyone.” Bruce got him a studio (Micky was an art photographer) and made sure he got his art showed at just the right galleries and received good reviews.

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The new core group after act 1. For me the way Bruce, Mickey and Gwen stands really well show the relationships there. Gwen leaning on Mickey Bruce holding Mickey, Mickey caught in the middle. Foto: Petter Karlsson

Mickey was part of a core group with Lester and Gwen who’s theme was all about dominance and power, so Bruce fitted in well there. But where the others played, Bruce didn’t. He actually looked down on BDSM, “If you need wips and robe to make sex work, then you’re not doing it right.” So the master and servant like relationship Bruce and Mickey had became a real one to mirror the game that Mickey, Gwen and Lester played. It was only after the act I saw how cruel and oppressive I ended up playing.

In act two Bruce was a shaken man, Sinclair’s death was still close and the first time he had exposed a bit of himself, he had been abandoned by Daniel. And then there was this young Mickey living with him, doing everything to please him. But Bruce was not nice to him. I Later learned the Micky was sacred of Bruce. He knew Bruce could crush Mickey and feared it would happen any day. But Bruce didn’t think like that. He was distraught, confused and not handling the new emotions very well. It was a very tense act for me. And for Mickey’s player as well, as I, especially in the beginning, played very possessive and commanding.

Early on in the act me and Mickey had a trio of black box scenes to show how our relationship was. Ok better put in a trigger warning here: The scenes were not nice.

The first was Bruce coming home from Sinclair’s funeral, we did that as a kind of symbolic dance where the player of Mickey utilised something called contact improvisation, that sounds really cool. In essence I moved around going through the many emotions that Bruce felt after this, anger, fear, sadness and so on, taking it all out on Mickey. When I pushed Mickey, he would move closer, when I pulled him in, he tried to move away. It was great, it was perfect, a cool metaphor for it, rather than just doing the scene. I Still remember lying on top of Mickey my arm raised, hand in a fist, seeing the fear in the young man’s eyes and then just collapsing and crying on his stomach.

The next two was Mickey trying to keep Bruce happy, thinking that he alone wasn’t enough for Bruce. So he brought him gifts. The first a drag queen for Bruce’s pleasure. The next gift shocked Bruce: two young boys 15 years old. Angry Bruce yelled at Mickey. “What on earth were you thinking?” Mickey looking confused and hurt said: “But it’s the only way to keep you safe. These have definitely not been exposed to anything.” Remember this act was about the fear of death and we were beginning to learn that HIV was transferred via sex.

Those three scenes so simply showed all that was wrong in that relationship. They both kinda liked each other and Mickey at least wanted to take care of Bruce even if he fears him. But they are both so damn bad at it. The look of fear on mickeys face had intrigued Bruce, it was the first time he saw anything else than a mask of friendly servitude. Bruce became fascinated by what lay beneath the masks that Mickey wore.

This only deepened as Bruce saw more and more of the real Mickey. He saw the young man talking to other artists and suddenly he saw a passionate young man, who created art, and was good at it. The life Bruce saw in the eyes of Mickey when he talked about art was intoxicating for a hollow man like Bruce. Bruce was falling in love slowly, fearfully but surely.

Therefore throughout the act Bruce confronted Mickey in different ways, trying to push him to show some real Mickey. And also being afraid of getting hurt again he kept wanting assurance, that if he did allow himself to fall for this young man, he wouldn’t be left again. But Mickey on the other hand (I learned later), was afraid to show himself to this dangerous shark, better just keep trying to please him. None of them realising that the other wanted the exact opposite.

Things really got hot when Bruce discovered what relationship Mickey had with Gwen (Lester being much out of the picture at that point) and that it was still going on. Mickey got caught between Gwen and Bruce, who both wanted him, and also needed him. We had many scenes back and forth, Mickey trying to keep the balance and also to keep the dangerous Bruce pleased. Mickey even going so far as to offer to punish Gwen on behalf of Bruce. That struck Bruce as silly, but later he said yes do it, do the worse you can think of. Again he didn’t care the least about Gwen, but he used it as a way to push Mickey, “show me something! React! Push back! Don’t just accept!” But Mickey did.

After the green tea Bruce made the ultimatum: “leave Gwen!” He wasn’t sure he meant it but he knew that it would push Mickey to perhaps show some real emotions or to actually leave Bruce, so it would be over and done with before Bruce fell too far. Mickey tried to be allowed to keep her: “Don’t you want to control her through me?” But again remember: Bruce was falling for Mickey and wasn’t interested in controlling someone he saw as beneath him anyway. And on the other side Mickey still hadn’t realized that Bruce was falling for him. He still feared him and saw him only as a power hungry capitalist. I love how much Bruce falling in love with Mickey confused Mickey.

Mickey said he would leave them, but Bruce still deeply mistrusted him, both because he was clearly doing and saying everything he thought Bruce wanted to hear, but also because Bruce felt very vulnerable and wanted to be sure he would not get hurt again.

But a talk with Ike, another important character for Bruce, that I don’t have the space to get into here, (I hope to cover him more in a post about my favorite scenes) convinced Bruce to give Mickey a chance and to try and trust him. I had planned to be really tough next time Bruce met Mickey, so Ike saved him from that. Instead Bruce confessed his love to Mickey and got only stunned silence in return.

But by the end of act two Bruce had come to a kind of acceptance: He was in love with Mickey, and might get hurt, but he should try and trust him and have patience that Mickey might someday open up to him. So we had a great scene where Bruce said: “If you promise to try and open up to me, I promise to give you time to do that.” Mickey looked back stunned and tried to show something but couldn’t yet, but the effort was enough for Bruce. Oh and it also helped when Mickey offered to get his stuff from Gwen’s place.

At the funeral scene Mickey name was picked, that was a punch to the stomach. So it felt like a true relief when Bruce was picked as well. At least he would be there for Mickey. Neither Bruce nor Mickey died, but again the funeral had an element of loneliness for Bruce. No one rushed to him, when he came back from the ordeal, unlike everyone else. Artie even brushed past him to get to someone else more important. That hurt.

When Bruce saw Mickey’s sister Sam (who he had talked to the other night to get to know Mickey better) and Gwen standing together looking for Mickey, he hugged Mickey and pushed him towards them, trying to signal that it was ok. Then turned his back and stood alone yet again. Soon after Mickey came and stood silent besides him. I didn’t know at the time that he had walked straight past them still following my order.

In the break both me and Mickey’s player agreed that we didn’t want this power play anymore, we wanted a more equal relationship. It took us some time to figure that out, because we both thought that the other wanted more of the same.

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