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The Pain Inside

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It was 1991. Erasure were at their prime after the release of their 5th album “Chorus”. Vince Clarke was out for the night hanging with his old friends from Depeche Mode. Andy Bell, on the other hand, was throwing a massive party at his private flat back at his home town in Peterborough. He seemed thrilled that the new album sold tens of thousands of copies in only a couple of days. So, he decided to go all out on this Friday night. He invited all of his close friends along with buying all the alcohol and drugs he could afford with his newly given wealth. He really wanted Vince to come along too, but Andy knew that it was best for Vince to miss out on this particular unbelievable party.

Once the party began, everyone seemed to be having the time of their lives, except for Andy Bell, who was sitting alone on the couch staring at the soft drink he had in his hand. A friend of his came up to him and asked “Why are you so bummed out today Andy? Tonight is your night to shine! You’ve made another impressive album with Vince and all of the world is enjoying it as we speak!” Andy took a few seconds to finish inspecting his drink and slowly turned his head to face his friend. He sighed and told his friend “Everything is fine. I’m just not in the partying mood. I want you guys to be happy, that’s all that matters to me right now.” His friend was a bit suspicious at first, however, he understood that being a popstar can have its ups and downs, such as being away from your loved ones when going on tours. “Hmm… are you feeling down because you’re going to miss us when you start touring again? Is that the real reason why you made this party?” Andy looked down for a moment, then looked back up to his friend “Yeah… that.” He’s friend was relieved to hear an answer. Although, he wished that Andy was happier. He sat beside Andy and looked around to see if anyone was noticing them. Everybody was too busy getting drunk and doing whatever drugs they could find. He wrapped his arm around Andy and he suggested “You know, this is your party and gifts. Why don’t you just take a shot or something?” Andy shook his head and informed him “It’s okay. I already had lots to drink over the past years. All the alcohol and drugs are meant for you guys.” The friend then let go of Andy and stood up to face him. “Well Andy, this is really nice of you to do for us. Just remember, if there’s anything you need or something that’s troubling you, you can always come to anyone of us. We’re always there for you even if Vince is in your reach. I know how shy Vince can act when talking about deep and personal problems.” Andy’s mind started drifting away for a moment. He was wondering how Vince would react if he saw his own music partner acting in the same position that he was at this very moment. The friend noticed this sudden change in mood. It sort of looked like Andy was about to start tearing up. His friend added “Just take it easy, alright?” Andy was lost in his mind that he almost completely forgot about his one friend standing right there in front of him. Andy took what he said and politely answered “You know what, you’re right. I’m probably just stressed out. I should probably sleep for a bit right here on the couch and relax. Maybe this would help brighten me up. Tell the others to quiet down a bit and not make a mess while I catch some shut eye.” The friend smiled and declared “You got it Andy! I hope you have a good rest. You deserve it.” And then he left to one of the rooms in the house. Andy chugged and finished the rest of his soft drink and placed the empty cup on top of a drawer beside the couch. He got into a comfortable position and gently closed his eyes, thinking what he was going to do next if all goes according to plan.

When Andy woke up, he noticed that the house was as dead as the night. No one was talking in the other rooms and no one was moving about. Andy thought that everyone was floored from all the drinks he bought for them. Because of this, Andy smiled and chuckled to himself for a bit. When he was done, he examined the room to find the tv remote to check the time on the telly. He found half of it sticking out of the couch pillow beside him and he gently pulled the remote forward to him. He turned on the telly with a flick of a button and when the screen went on, Andy groaned from the bright light conflicting with his eyes and turned his head to the side. When his eyes felt more adjusted to the light, he looked right at the corner of the telly and had a look of shock on his face. He carefully got up from the couch and moved slowly towards the telly. He then stopped at a reasonable distance. “11:57pm” he whispered to himself. Andy’s shocked expression later turned to dejection. He softly whispered to himself “I guess it’s time now. Who knew that time can go by so bloody fast”. He had a bunch of thoughts running throughout his head, but he knew what he wanted to do next.

Andy was off to his room. When he got to the staircase, he saw more of his friends passed out all over the floor. He cautiously walked up the stairs, carefully avoiding stepping on any of his wasted friends. He got to the 2nd floor without trouble and was peeking in the other rooms to see if anyone happened to be awake. Everyone was still motionless and dead silent. When he got to his bedroom after scanning a few rooms, he noticed about four of his friends passed out on his bed. Andy giggled to himself at the display. He thought to himself “Oh, you silly guys!” thinking about all the times his closest friends surprised him in the most unusual of ways. Andy got back on track as he tip-toed to the right side of the room where his big drawer was. There were three drawer doors. The top one being where Andy kept all his clothes, the middle one holding all of his precious lucky socks, and the bottom one, having a code locker on it, only to ever been used and seen by Andy when no one was around. Andy didn’t care if people were around him anymore, he just wanted to do the act he wanted to commit straight away. He fiddled with the lock and tried his best to get the numbers 4, 25, and 7 without making too much of a ruckus. When he heard the click, he opened the drawer, ever so slightly and full of care so that he wouldn’t break what was inside. There was a black leather box as well as an envelop attached to it, slightly filled with dust. Andy took a deep breath and examined the box. He never touched this box since 1985 when he first constructed it. “This is it” he said to himself “I can’t believe I’m about to do this.” He took the box from the drawer and decided to open it in the living room instead of his bedroom because he felt more comfortable there.

Andy was even more cautious going down the stairs rather then going up the stairs since he had this box to carry. It wasn’t too heavy to carry; however, he did know that it was going to be a problem delivering this box to the living room since all the ratted people were still passed out on the stair case. With one hand he was holding the box, while on the other, he was holding on to the railing, carefully avoiding everyone. When he was about to land on the final step, he flinched. He noticed someone was holding onto one of his legs. He turned slowly to see who it was, and it was a drunk friend, still passed out although he stretched to a new position and Andy happened to be in his reach at the wrong time. “Oh, my, goodness” Andy was a little worried now. How was he going to get out of this predicament? He looked around the room to find any small object to replace his trapped leg with. Luckily, there was an empty beer can beside his foot. So, he got in a comfortable standing position, let go of the railing, and grabbed the can. He delicately moved his caught leg out of the guy’s hand and quickly replaced it with the can. Andy closed his mouth with his free hand, hoping not to make any sound while the guy was moving his fingers slightly over the can. Andy felt his heart race at the sight of it, but thankfully, the guy didn’t wake up. Andy gave a sigh of relief. When he finally reached the bottom of the stairs, he kept both arms around his box.

He went to the living room and turned on the lights. He sat down back at the couch that he was at before and placed the box on his lap. He took off the envelop easily off the box and gently placed it beside him. Andy took some time to think before opening his box. He looked back on the telly which was still on even after he left to go to his room. “Midnight” he whispered to himself “It’s finally time to get this all over with”. When he lifted the lid of the box, there was a bright, shiny, brand new Caliber 45 handgun, waiting to be used. Andy picked up the gun from the box and examined it. He noticed how reflective it was in the light. He also noticed how cold it felt. He wished that wasn’t one of the last things he felt in his life before dying. He carried on with his plan and got the only bullet that was in the box. He loaded the handgun, but before he can do anything with it, he switched the gun with the envelope beside him and carefully opened it. In the envelope was an old photo of him and Vince a few days after they met for the very first time. Andy smiled at the sight of seeing Vince when he was younger again. He then rolled up one of his sleeves to reveal an arm of his, filled with gashes he had done to himself in the previous days. When he noticed that the marks weren’t getting any better, the sight of it made Andy upset. He looked back at the photo, locking eyes with Vince, and grabbed the handgun with his other hand. He took a few deeps breaths before speaking his mind. When he was ready, he declared “Vince, I’m sorry. I tried my best to keep holding on. However, I just lost the willpower to do it so over the recent events centering about me and my preferences. I know you wanted me to fight for whatever I thought was right in this world, but now, I have failed you. It’s time for me this leave my miserable life and go to a place where I’ll be punished for all my failures. I know you are just a picture here, but I wanted you to be the last person I see before I kill myself. You meant the world to me. All of it. Why is life so precious and so cruel?” He placed a gentle kiss on the photo for a few seconds and began to softly cry. He really wanted to see Vince, the real thing, again, not a photo of him. When he was ready, he finally said what he wanted to be his last words “I’ll never forget you Vince. I hope you find someone better than me for your next electronic duo. Goodbye, friend.” And while he was still looking at the photo, he carefully placed the tip of the handgun in his mouth. A countdown began in his mind and he forced his eyes shut. “five, four, three…”

Suddenly, there was rattle at the main entrance of the flat. It sounded like someone was fiddling with their keys and were trying to get in. This made Andy quickly take the gun out of his mouth, drop the photo, and greatly flinch. The box that was on his lap fell on the floor, making a moderate thud. This didn’t seem to wake anybody up. When the door opened, it revealed to be Vince Clarke, back from his hang out with his old band buddies. Andy felt his heart stop and was absolutely terrified. He had no idea how he was going to explain this, this mess, to his own musical partner and best friend. Vince was busy hanging up is jacket while he proclaimed, “Sorry for dropping by so late Andy, I thought I would come by just so we can talk about things since everyone wanted to go to bed where I was at”. When he was done, he turned to face Andy. Right away, he noticed that Andy was holding a gun in his hand. This made him confused. Vince questioned “Um, Andy, why are you holding a handgun?”. Andy was shaking a little, trying his best not to give away what was really going on. He anxiously said “Oh? O..o..o.oh, this? Oh, it's n..n.nothing honestly. It’s for… it’s for one of our new music videos! Yeah, that’s it! That’s totally it! I don’t know what else I would use this for!” Vince knew Andy was acting very strange. He couldn’t wrap his head around the situation until he noticed that Andy had severe gashes all over one of his arms. Everything started to click in his head and he knew exactly what Andy was planning to do. He tried his best to stay calm, not making any sudden movements to scare or frighten Andy. Andy knew exactly what Vince was looking at and was thinking. He was shaking. He knew he couldn’t hide anything anymore. Vince approached him very slowly. “Andy, please hand over the gun to me.” Vince stated and holding out one of his hands, still moving slowly, but also shaking a little as well. He could see the fear in Andy’s eyes, almost as if Andy was an abused animal, scared about the world that he lives in. Andy wanted to move back, but he knew he had nowhere to run off to. He looked at the gun, then back at Vince. Vince stated “You can trust me Andy. I would never hurt you. Just hand over the gun to me and everything will be alright, I promise.” It took him a few seconds, but Andy was slowly giving up his gun. When the gun was in reach, Vince carefully grasped the weapon, being very cautious not to come in contact with the trigger area. When his hand was fully on the gun, he used his other hand to remove Andy’s hand away from it. Vince carefully unloaded the weapon, there was only one bullet inside, and this made him feel frightened. He was hoping that there was never any bullet in the gun to begin with. He tossed both the gun and the bullet to the side and looked back at Andy.

He noticed that Andy was starting to cry a little. This made Vince feel sorry for him. He gently placed his hand on one of Andy’s cheek and asked, “Andy, why? Why did you want to do this to yourself?” Andy couldn’t give an answer. He was too busy looking back at Vince’s worried and upsetting face. Vince was trying to think of reasons of why Andy was acting the way he was, and it suddenly hit him. He asked him another question “It’s because of your homosexuality, isn’t it?” Andy placed a hand on Vince’s hand that was touching his cheek and gently moved it away from him. He turned around, took a few steps forward, and was now sitting in place. He took a deep breath and said “Well, if you must know, a group of people that were high school bullies to me found my phone number in a phone book not too long ago. They knew about me, Erasure, and my husband, Paul. They called me about a week ago, stating that if I don’t give them one hundred thousand pounds, they would call my mother and tell her that I was gay. They would also tell her about all the crushes I had in high school. I didn’t give them the money by the way, I thought they were lying at first.” Vince was a little bit confused and asked “Wait, didn’t you already tell your mom that you were gay before?” Andy shook his head and answered, “I told her I was bi, just so she wouldn’t get too upset about me, but in my heart, I knew that I was lying to her. I knew that deep down, I was lying to myself as well.” Vince asked “Well, what happened after that phone call?” Andy took a few seconds to reply back. This time, in a very disconsolate tone, “Well, I got a phone call the next day, from my mother. She told me that I ruined her dreams to become a grandparent and how since I was her only son, I was the only one to carry the family’s name. She kept telling me how she wishes to have an abortion while she had the chance. Since, well, at the time, she was a minor when she was having me. The last thing she told me was that I ruined her life, all of it. That was the last time she ever called me back on my phone. She never apologized to me.” He was starting to cry again, this time, a little more uncontrollably. Vince walked up to Andy, really saddened by what he has told him. “Andy, I’m so sorry.” Vince stated. Andy was still crying, lost in his own thoughts. Vince tried to make him feel better by saying “Your mom and those bullies just don’t understand a damn thing about being gay.  Hell, when I was in high school growing up with my friends, we all got bullied for different reasons involving are sexuality. Even I had thoughts of being gay for the longest time. You just don’t let those people get close to you Andy. Truth is, I really love and care for you, and I hate seeing you like this.”

There was a growling noise coming from Andy. Vince was worried now. “Um, Andy?” Vince couldn’t get a thing out of him. A couple seconds later, Andy turned his head with an angered look in his eyes. “Bloody straight.” He muttered at Vince. Vince was shocked. He had no idea what he said to cause Andy to behave like this. Vince tried asking him “Wait, what did you just say?” Andy stood up to face and point at Vince. He yelled “You’re lying! You’re not gay! You were never gay! And I know this because I see you pray to God every single bloody day! You’re too much of a high practicing Christian to be gay. And even if I was the most truthful and holy person on this planet, I still have a one-way ticket to hell! So, stop lying to me!” Vince was completely shocked by what his friend just told him. Vince tried to correct him “You know that’s not true Andy! God loves everyone! Even the highest of Christians can be gay if they want to. I mean, have you seen my friend Martin from Depeche Mode lately? The only thing he’s been wearing all week was a pair of shorts and some chains around his chest. He gave up eating meat forever because of God, but he’s still expressing his sexuality!” Andy was still mad. His mood wasn’t getting any better. “Martin has a girlfriend now, so don’t try to pretend that I don’t know anything about your little group of friends.” Andy stated, as he turned around, crossing his arms. Vince was trying all his best to make Andy stop acting this way. He tried to construct something to make Andy see that this wasn’t so bad as he thought it was. He would later regret it, “Come on Andy, this is not such a big deal. Well, um, I mean…” Andy had to cut him off. “Not a big deal?” He turned around to face Vince again. “Not a big deal?” he said again. He angerly walked up to Vince, going so far as to put both on his hands on his shoulders with rage. Vince was freighted by his actions. Andy shouted at him “NOT A BIG DEAL? ARE YOU ABSOLUETLY KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW? IT IS A HUGE DEAL! IF NO ONE AT MY SCHOOL LOVES ME, IF MY MOM DOSEN’T LOVE ME, AND IF BLOODLY GOD DOSEN’T EVEN LOVE ME, THEN TELL ME THIS, VINCENT JOHN CLARKE, WHAT GOOD HAVE I DONE TO ANYONE IN THIS WORLD? WHAT HAVE I DONE TO MAKE ANYBODY HAPPY?”.  Andy pushed Vince to the wall. Vince did not expect Andy to get so physical with him. He hit his back and was groaning at the pain. “Ow, bloody hell.” Vince said to himself. Andy could not believe what he had just done. He injured the person who he considered his hero. Andy started crying uncontrollably and fell to the floor, putting his face on the carpet and crossing his arms around his head. Vince knew the only way to make him feel better now. He really didn’t want to go this far, but he had no other choice. When Andy started to calm down, Vince announced something that he never thought he would say out loud before.

“You know Andy, you stopped me from committing suicide one time.” The room was dead silent. Andy stopped crying, but he didn’t believe what Vince had just told him. He looked up to face eye contact with him. Vince restated “You heard me right, you stopped me from killing myself six years ago.” Andy was confused. “You? Suicidal? I… I never saw you suicidal before. When exactly was this?” Vince shook his head “You never knew about it because I always kept it to myself. I’m not like you where you always express how you feel to me. Let me explain, the year was 1983, and I was in the final weeks of working in Yazoo at the time…” Andy cut him of and stated “Wait, but I thought you liked being in Yazoo?” Vince smirked and said, “I did Andy, but around the time Yazoo was ending, things fell apart.” Andy asked Vince another question “What exactly happened then?” Vince got serious and began telling Andy his story, “While I was finishing up the synth pieces for the second Yazoo album, my musical partner, Alison Moyet, was doing her singing bits in another location. That was where the problem started. We weren’t as close as we once were before due to the fact that Alison had agoraphobia and she thought my studio was unsafe for her to be in, which is why we worked away from each other. You see, Alison was a sweet girl at the start of our career, but after a while, her bipolar disorder also started to kick in. Whenever we did get the chance to work in the same room, one minute she would tell me that she loved me, and she wanted to be with me, while the next, she wanted to kill me, for different reasons. I tried my best to help her in these situations, but sometimes I would just make Alison angrier. When we were done both of our pieces, we gave them to the record company, and we just said our goodbyes for now. The next day, when I wanted to call Alison on the pay phone, she didn’t pick up. I sort of knew something was up, so, I rushed over to her house, as fast as I could. Not caring of anything else in the world in that moment, expect for Alison. When I got to her house, her front door was locked. I went to the back of the home and noticed she left her backdoor unlocked. I entered the house and was shocked to see just about all of her furniture, gone. She didn’t leave a note or nothing. She moved away from me and my life, possibly out of anger and hatred, or so I’m left to believe. The same day, I went to see if the record company knew anything about Alison’s whereabouts. They told me that she quit the band this morning, and also told me if I have a new singer to replace her, or else I was forced to quit Yazoo. I disappointingly said no and left. I was very heartbroken. From that day on for two years, I tried my best forming new bands, but failed. I would call myself a failure. Because of that, I told myself every day that I made Alison kill herself. I mean, she never came back to see me, so I was left to my own imagination. Everyday I would sit down in bed, starving myself until the day that I died. Because I had no one to talk to, my depression kept eating me from the inside, and I let that almost finish me off.” Andy got up from the floor, feeling sorry for Vince, and said “You never went too far with that, right?” Vince answered “Well, every time I would feel dead hungry, I would always fetch myself something to eat, but I would always curse myself for it.” Andy was curious now “What made you finally get back on your feet and helped you?” Vince stated “I backtracked, remembering why Alison and I formed Yazoo in the first place. She left an ad in this magazine called “Melody Maker” about forming a new band after she disbanded her old punk rock group. I decided to do the same thing what she did, and in 1985, I made an ad in that same magazine, stating that I was the founding members of both Depeche Mode and Yazoo, and how I was looking for a singer for my next duo project. On the Friday of that week, I waited in my studio for all the participances to show up. There were a lot of them. Most of them seemed to fall flat, and only joined just so they can try to become popular. None of them had talent or were passionate whatsoever, which started making me upset again. However, that’s when I met contestant number forty-seven. A certain young man, eager and excited to sing to me. That young lad told me about how he was a huge fan of Yazoo, and how I was his hero. This made me feel very proud inside, but what made me feel even better was that when he sang that beautiful track “Oh L'amour” to me, I could feel that passion and happiness that I was looking for all this time inside him. I knew he was the one. Not just for the role, but also to bring me back the piece of my heart that Alison took away from me.” Vince got closer to Andy and proudly rested his hand on Andy’s shoulder. “That person who changed my life that day, was you, Andy. You saved me from a deep depression that seemed endless. Now, you’re my hero.” Andy was absolutely touched by what Vince said to him. He was about to cry, but he still had doubts that Vince was lying to him. Vince told him “Please Andy, losing you would be like losing a huge piece of my heart, and I definitely don’t want that to happen to me again.” Andy was shaking, wanting to believe what Vince told him, but he needed something more. Andy whispered to Vince softly “Vince, I… I don’t know if…” before Andy could finish what he wanted to say, Vince hugged Andy and gave him a soft kiss right on the lips. Andy was shocked at first. He didn’t think Vince was ever going to kiss him in his life. Andy saw Vince finally tearing up, and this made Andy think he was telling the truth the whole time. So, he took his kiss and hugged him as well, also starting to cry again. Andy let go after a while and asked “Wait, I thought you were straight Vince?” Vince laughed and said “I am! I just reserve my kisses for the people I care, respect, and look up to the most, no matter who they are!” Andy grinned and gave Vince a really huge hug and shouted happily “You do love me Vince!” Vince hugged Andy tightly and answered “Of course I do Andy! I always did!” Vince and Andy cried in each other’s arms, not caring about the time they were killing. Because of this, the hug felt like it was lasting for hours and hours. They just wanted to be with each other for the rest of the day, feeling each other’s hearts beat at the strong and loyal friendship they have.

A few minutes later, Vince let go of Andy and asked him “I know it’s late, but, if you’re still feeling bad, we can go to the hospital or something, just to make sure you are safe.” Andy let go of Vince and stated “I would love that, actually, but you’re driving me. My car keys are in my room upstairs.” “I’ll go get them!” announced Vince, and he went upstairs to Andy’s room. Andy touched his lips with his delicate fingers, closing his eyes, and blushing about how Vince kissed him. This made Andy feel very happy and joyful inside. When Vince got downstairs, he had a concerned look on his face. “Um, Andy, why is there four passed out men on your bed?” Vince questioned. Andy laughed and said “Oh, we were all just having a party while you were gone about the new album. Things got pretty wild after a while”. Vince smirked and said “Wild, you say?” Andy jumped and stated “Whoa! Not that kind of wild! I swear!” Vince laughed it off and said, “I’m only teasing with you, now come, let’s go.” Vince opened the main entrance and held out one of his hands for Andy to hold on to it, smiling at him. Andy held Vince’s hand with both of his and smiled back at him. The two of them went out the door, never looking back, and not caring when they’ll be both back home.