The Gentleman’s Madness by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Genre: Gay Historical
An imprisoned heart finds escape in forbidden love.
No pride. No privacy. No hope.
Academic John Gilliam thought being caught embracing another man was the worst that could happen. Until he agrees to “treatment” at an asylum, where a vicious attack leaves him shaken and afraid.
But having all means of writing or reading taken from him… That is a serious threat to his sanity. Then a moment of kindness from an asylum attendant begins to restore his dignity.
Sam Tully feels sorry for the patient everyone calls “the professor”, but with a back injury that cost him his job on the docks—and without the education that would have bettered his position—he tries to keep his head down, and a tight lid on his attraction to men.
As John prays for freedom, he grows closer to the gentle, innately intelligent Tully. In spite of themselves, forbidden attraction leads to touches, kisses, and more. But there’s something other than curative treatments going on at the asylum. When John and Tully uncover a heinous conspiracy, their very lives are in danger.
John didn’t often lose his temper these days. Punishment came fast when one did, particularly when one had been diagnosed as aggressive. But their intrusive presence now, after this morning’s humiliation, proved too much for his temper. No more pens in his life. He’d been reduced to nothing more than a trembling child hiding under the covers. No. He must fight for what little he had left. Not dignity, but a faint shadow of it.
He drew the blanket from his face, down to his shoulders, too aware of his undressed state. “Dr. McAndrew, if you must speak of my illness and symptoms as if I am deaf, please be so good as to do it outside of my room.”
He looked over the group of four men. Earnest, well-educated men. As he had once been, but nothing like him any longer. His voice trembled, but he didn’t shout. “There is no reason one should be forced to listen to one’s diagnosis.” And then he lost all words. Familiar blue eyes met his, widened with shock, then pity and, worst of all, contempt.
The day’s pain suddenly increased beyond physical torment.
“Stanhope,” he whispered.
Stanhope hadn’t changed much in the last few years. He still wore his hair too long, and the shadow of freckles touched his nose.
“You look well,” John said, pretending that his old friend had answered. “I know the same cannot be said of me. I had heard you were going into medicine.”
Stanhope stepped back so he was at the rear of the group. The blank look he gave John now held no recognition. Except he gave a sharp glance to either side, probably to ascertain no one gazed at him with repulsion—as if John’s condition of madness was contagious.
“Oh, do not pretend you don’t know me.” John sat up, heedless of his naked torso. The dark rage boiled now. “For pity’s sake, that is too much. We were best of friends at school. No, gentlemen, not like that. He was spared any sort of perverse desire. Please, you must learn to hide your disgust better than this, especially you, Stanhope, if you hope to deal with patients who possess more intelligence than turnips.”
McAndrew stepped forward so his black jacket was all John could see. “Mr. G., you must calm yourself.”
He should, he knew. Instead, he rose from his narrow iron bed and wrapped the blanket tight around his shoulders. They had taken all but his drawers from him, and he knew he looked silly standing there, a skinny, crow-nosed fool, no doubt red-faced and staring. If he hadn’t been mad before, he had become so; he had nothing left. They had taken his pens, and now they stripped him of his past.
“I have nothing left,” he told them all, looking at Stanhope, whose gaze had dropped to examine something on his sleeve. “Apparently, even the inside of my brain is tainted. With despair, I should think. But no disease, no aberration is nearly as grotesque as pretending you do not know your old friend. You leave me with nothing.”
He should retreat and shut his mouth, but he knew that if he stopped railing, he would begin to weep. Anger kept the tears away, and he refused to cry in front of Stanhope and the rest of these gawping, muttering “gentlemen”.
“Attendant!” McAndrew didn’t shout, but the word held menace. Maybe John would have heeded the threat two hours earlier. Perhaps he would have heard it if he’d gotten some sleep the night before, but they’d been playing some sort of sleep-and-wakening game with him, seeing if they could wear him down.
The other men shuffled back to make room for the big oaf in gray who came into the room, moving far too quickly for a hulk like that. “Remove Mr. G to the restful room.”
“Mr. Gilliam. My name is John Gilliam,” John shouted at them all. “I still exist.”
Bonnie Dee began telling stories as a child. Whenever there was a sleepover, she was the designated ghost tale teller, guaranteed to frighten and thrill with macabre tales. She still has a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat.
Writing childish stories for her own pleasure led to majoring in English at college. Like most English majors, she dreamed of writing a novel, but didn’t have the necessary focus and follow through at that time in her life. A husband, children and work occupied the next twenty years and it was only in 2000 that she began writing again. Bonnie enjoys reading stories about people damaged by life who find healing with a like-minded soul. When she couldn’t find enough books to suit her taste, she began to write them.