Shadowlands TV series

Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES – Director Statement

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Format  The Shadowlands TV series is a miniseries of three episodes by director Charlie David exploring love –a narcissist grasping to comprehend it (Ep. 1 Narcissus), a couple renegotiating a relationship (Ep. 2 Mating Season) and star-crossed lovers mourning its loss (Ep. 3 Pygmalion Revisited).

The stories transition from one to the next in an anthology fashion and may be watched together and thought of as one film.  (Such as in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Four Rooms or Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales.)

Each episode in the Shadowlands TV series has a companion digital media component such as music videos or an exploration of the artists and technicians involved. 

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 1: NARCISSUS

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus bed

Synopsis – Alex, a plastic surgeon hell bent on perfection, hosts a house party with an assortment of colorful guests.  Amid romantic misfires it becomes apparent that the only person Alex is interested in is himself.

Theme – The pursuit of perfection may become deadly when left unchecked.  This theme is explored in a less extreme fashion in Director Charlie David‘s documentary STUDlebrity.

 Setting  – Mansion.  Era is modern but with the influence of 1920’s Berlin.  People exploring their sexual freedom and new cosmetic surgeries in the pursuit of perfection. 

Companion webisode – In the companion webisode, we explore the costume design in Narcissus.    

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 2: MATING SEASON  Oscar Moreno in Shadowlands TV series

Synopsis – A couple explore the idea of opening their relationship while on a remote camping trip when they encounter a mysterious stranger.

Theme – In every culture since time began there have been stories of apparitions. The causes of such phenomena are continually under speculation. It seems that no matter how much data, first-hand accounts and theories are collected, the question ‘Do Ghosts Exist’ is one that may never be answered…

Setting  – 1951 post WWII forest

Companion webisode: In the companion webisode, we’ll explore the history of the WWII hit song, My Buddy.  A male duet of the song was recorded for the soundtrack as well as a music video featuring clips from Mating Season.  

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 3: PYGMALION REVISITED

Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands
Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’

Synopsis – Rudy is a painter who in mourning the loss of his lover and becomes obsessed with creating a realistic painting of him. The resulting piece is so beautiful, so life like that he is drawn under its spell.

Theme – Star-crossed lovers whose romance is cut short by the shears of fate.

Setting  – Present day artist’s loft.   

 Companion webisode: The companion webisode is a behind the scenes look at the creation of the life-size paintings and how the VFX team brought it to life.    

A music video, Ça va, featuring actor and singer Marc Devigne was also created utilizing clips from the Pygmalion Revisited episode.

THE WORLD of the SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES

Shadowlands is a fantasy world much like our own but where there are paranormal occurrences.

Each episode is in the Shadowlands TV series its own microcosm.  The characters and stories do not overlap directly BUT there are ‘Easter Eggs’ for our audience in the form of allusions to the other stories/worlds in each episode.

This may be in the appearance of a minor character in two stories.  Or within set décor, music or a prop.  For example:

SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EASTER EGGS

Shadowlands Easter Egg 1:  The character of Percy Katt (Brian Michael Jensen) belongs in the world of NARCISSUS but in the film festival version of Shadowlands – switches a record on the gramophone with the episode titles to segue between each story.   

Shadowlands TV show Gramophone Percy Katt Narcissus

Gramophones are hidden throughout the Shadowlands TV show episodes.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 2: Gramophones can also be spotted in one of two black and white photographs depicted as Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) by Durban artist Andreas Chasomeris from his photographic collection titled ‘The Gray Scale 1946”.   These hang on either side of the mirror in his dungeon in NARCISSUS.

Gramophone seen in photos of Alex in his dungeon scenes in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’
Shadowlands 'Narcissus' starring Sean C. Dwyer as Alex.
Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in his dungeon in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 3: A gramophone can also be spotted in a painting titled DARE NOT (2014) by South African artist Andreas Chasomeris in PYGMALION REVISITED which hangs by Rudy and Xavier’s bed.

Dare Not by Andreas Chomeris. Painting in the gay TV series Shadowlands
Charlie David as Rudy in Shadowlands ‘Pygmalion Revisited’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 4: The man flying fishing in the opening montage of ‘Mating Season’ is seen at the eccentric house party in ‘Narcissus’.

Jim Garrow as Fly Fisherman in Shadowlands TV series episode 1 Narcissus and episode 2 Mating Season
Fly Fisherman (Jim Garrow) in the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands
Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) and Fly Fisherman (Jim Garrow) in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’

Shadowlands Easter Egg 5: In MATING SEASON, the characters Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) are negotiating their relationship and end up having a threesome with Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis).  This episode endorses the idea of non-monogamy and polyamory.

The threesome scene in the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands

The character of Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in NARCISSUS makes disparaging remarks about the Bunny Boys (Basil Hendy & Kato Alexander) and their sexual proclivities in the dungeon.  Alex ultimately punishes the Bunny Boys for ‘behaving like a couple of swine.’  In this episode non-monogamy is challenged.

Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy as the Bunny Boys with Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in the Narcissus episode of the gay TV series Shadowlands

Shadowlands Easter Egg 6: The theme of war is explored in MATING SEASON with Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis) receiving a dishonorable discharge in the form of a blue ticket.  Will (Nicolas James Wilson) has a monologue about what scares him about his job as a sailor.

Shadowlands TV series episode 3 'Mating Season'
Oscar Moreno, Nicolas James Wilson and Vasilios Filippakis in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Mating Season’

War is also a theme in NARCISSUS.  Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) urges Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) that life before the war (allusion to WWI) wasn’t perfect and neither were any of us.  Alex’s relentless pursuit of perfection to fix people (beginning with amputee soldiers and mustard gas victims) takes on a life of its own in the roaring 1920’s of Berlin.

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus
Narcissus with Sean C. Dwyer and Natasha Balkrishnan

Shadowlands Easter Egg 7: The cinematography in MATING SEASON of an overhead view of Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) laying perpendicular on a blanket while they agree to open their relationship is mirrored in PYGMALION REVISITED with Rudy (Charlie David) and Xavier (Marc Devigne) in a memory sequence.  Rudy is likening their relationship to Greek myth with the line, ‘Eros and Psyche intertwined under the heavy branches of an olive tree, blissfully unaware of the passage of centuries.’

Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) in Shadowlands ‘Mating Season’
Xavier (Marc Devigne) and Rudy (Charlie David) in the Pygmalion Revisited episode of the Shadowlands TV series.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 8: MATING SEASON is at its core a classic ghost story. 

Shadowlands TV series Mating Season

The theme of apparitions is echoed in PYGMALION REVISITED in Rudy’s dream as well as in his flashbacks of the film he and Xavier were watching on their movie night. 

The film is The Terror (1963) in which Lt. Andre Duvalier (Jack Nicholson) is haunted by the Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff) to suicide from his guilt.

Shadowlands episode 3 'Pygmalion Revisited' The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff)
The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 9: The castle spires seen in The Terror (1963) movie are echoed by the spires of the church that Rudy (Charlie David) walks into in PYGMALION REVISITED.

Shadowlands series - church spires from film The Terror 1963
Shadowlands series – church spires from film The Terror 1963
Shadowlands series - church spires
Church spires seen in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 10: Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) is given a copper box with white Calla Lilies hiding a revolver in NARCISSUS.   

Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) receives Calla Lilies in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus
Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) receives Calla Lilies in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus

In the dungeon scenes in NARCISSUS there are red Calla Lilies laying on the table in which Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) keeps his torture tools.

Calla lilies in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Calla lilies in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

In PYGMALION REVISITED, Xavier (Marc Devigne) requests Rudy (Charlie David) to have Calla Lilies at his funeral because ‘they’re my favorite, but you already knew that.’  Calla Lilies figure prominently around Rudy and Xavier’s loft in PYGMALION REVISITED and ultimately Rudy paints Xavier holding one in his final painting.

Shadowlands TV series Pygmalion Revisited

Calla lily at the end of Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Calla lily at the end of Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited

Shadowlands Easter Egg 11: A painting that sits sideways in Rudy and Xavier’s loft in PYGMALION REVISITED is a reference to Alex in NARCISSUS.  It is titled ‘The Devil is…1931’ (2015) by Andreas Chasomeris and is another allusion to the roaring 20s in Berlin.  On the wall behind the man in the painting is a poster of the Marlene Dietrich film The Devil is a Woman (1935). 

The Devil is 1939 by South African artist Andreas Chomeris featured in Shadowlands episodes Narcissus and Pygmalion Revisited.
The Devil is a Woman starring Marlene Dietrich

Shadowlands Easter Egg 12: The Bunny Boys (Basil Hendy & Kato Alexander) are tied up in Alex’s dungeon in NARCISSUS. 

Shadowlands TV series Narcissus Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy
The bunny boys (Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy) are kept captive by Alex (Sean C. Dwyer)

In PYGMALION REVISITED there is a painting of two men tied up beside Xavier & Rudy’s bed.  It’s open to interpretation whether one man is tying up or untying the other.  On one of the man’s shirtsleeves is sewn a pink triangle – a sign meant to identify and demoralize homosexuals, similar to the Star of David for the Jewish people, that the Nazis enforced in the lead up to WWII.  

Finally in this painting there is a gramophone in the corner of the room.  The gramophone and changing of the record by Percy Katt (Brian Michael Jensen) is the first image we see in NARCISSUS as well as a recurring motif in the film festival version of SHADOWLANDS.   The painting is titled DARE NOT (2014) and is by South African artist Andreas Chasomeris as part of his 1939 show.  

Dare Not by painter Andreas Chomeris featured in the Shadowlands episode Pygmalion Revisited.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 13: Xavier (Marc Devigne) has left the painting in the final frames of PYGMALION REVISITED.  He’s crossed over from death to life and tragically Rudy (Charlie David) has crossed from life to death. 

Xavier exits the painting in Shadowlands TV series
Xavier exits the painting in Shadowlands TV series

There is hope for their ultimate reunion by way of a painting of two naked men in an embrace which the camera slowly pulls out from in the opening party montage in NARCISSUS.  The painting was originally created in 2007 by Scottsdale, Arizona artist James Angel for Charlie David’s film MULLIGANS in which his character Chase also plays a painter. 

Charlie David as the young painter ‘Chase’ in his film Mulligans.
Shadowlands Narcissus – the Easter Egg painting by James Angel originally seen in Charlie David’s film Mulligans.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 14: The song ‘Ça va’ written by Montreal musician Michael Daniel Murphy and performed in PYGMALION REVISITED by Xavier (Marc Devigne) is also hummed by Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in NARCISSUS after he kills the Bunny Boys.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 15: Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) threatens suicide by lethal injection in NARCISSUS. 

Thalia threatens suicide by lethal injection in Shadowlands TV show episode 1 Narcissus
Thalia threatens suicide by lethal injection in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus

Rudy (Charlie David) assists Xavier’s (Marc Devigne) death and ultimately commits suicide in PYGMALION REVISITED.

Assisted death in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Assisted death in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Suicide in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Suicide in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

The ‘play within the play’ or The Terror archival film clips in PYGMALION REVISITED include a scene where The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the Baron (Boris Karloff) to take his own life. She consoles him by saying, ‘my own hand will guide you.  And we can be together forever. Forever.’

The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the suicide of the Baron (Boris Karloff) in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the suicide of the Baron (Boris Karloff) in Rudy (Charlie David’s) dream.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 16: There are black and white framed photos done in the style of Paraty, Brasil artist Aecio Sarti (two faces conjoined) of  Rudy & Xavier in PYGMALION REVISITED and of Thalia and Alex in NARCISSUS.

Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti painting
A painting by Aecio Sarti is seen in the background in episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited.
Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti style photograph
Photo in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited in the style of artist Aecio Sarti.
Photo in Shadowlands TV series Aecio Sarti.
Photo in Shadowlands TV series episode 1 Narcissus in the style of artist Aecio Sarti.
Aecio Sarti painting
Aecio Sarti painting

Visit Aecio Sarti’s website and learn more about this world renowned artist.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 17: In PYGMALION REVISITED Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) commissions Rudy (Charlie David) for a painting of Saint Bacchus.  Saint Bacchus is most commonly paired with Saint Sergius and they are known as erastai or lovers. 

Saints Sergius and Bacchus Alessio Ciani (1946 - living) Italy 2013
Alessio Ciani (1946 – living) Italy. © 2013
Mounted on wood, printed on canvas with frame and halos hand painted with acrilic gold

For centuries Sergius and Bacchus were upheld as ‘gay Saints’, often depicted in icons and statuary together.  Saints Sergius and Bacchus were martyred and the tale of how Bacchus came to Sergius in a dream before he died and promised they would be reunited in heaven is relayed to Rudy by Father Malik in the first scene of PYGMALION REVISITED.    

Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) comissions a painting of Saints Sergius and Bacchus from Rudy (Charlie David) in Shadowlands TV series episode 3Pygmalion Revisited
Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) comissions a painting of Saints Sergius and Bacchus from Rudy (Charlie David) in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited

In 1969 the Catholic church de-canonized Sergius and Bacchus and their churches, alters and art were renamed or destroyed.  Coincidentally 1969 was also the year of the Stonewall Riots and what we now mark as the beginning of gay liberation – Pride.

Read more about Saints Sergius and Bacchus here.

GREEK MYTHOLOGY REFERENCES IN SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES

Shadowlands Easter Egg 18: Xavier (Marc Devigne) wears a gold medallion of Zeus throughout PYGMALION REVISITED which is later claimed and worn by Rudy. 

Xavier (Marc Devigne) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Xavier (Marc Devigne) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Rudy (Charlie David) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Rudy (Charlie David) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Zeus coin pendant
Zeus coin pendant

In the original Greek mythology of Pygmalion and Galatea, Athena empathizes with Pygmalion and brings his statue Galatea to life. 

The goddess Athena taking pity on Pygmalion and bringing his statue to life.
The goddess Athena taking pity on Pygmalion and bringing his statue to life.

Zeus is known as a jealous and vengeful god and the ultimate tragedy in PYGMALION REVISITED may be interpreted as his revenge at Athena showing undue empathy to mortals.

Statue of Zeus

Rudy references several gods in PYGMALION REVISITED while contemplating how to complete his commission of a painting of Saint Sergius from Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan).  Among these are Pallas Athena, Heracles, Eros, Psyche, and Zeus. 

Shadowlands Easter Egg 19: In MATING SEASON, Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis) can be imagined as the incarnate god Pan known for trickery of travelers in the woods as well as his sexual appetite.

The Greek god Pan represented in Shadowlands TV series episode 2 Mating Season in the character of Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis)
The Greek god Pan represented in Shadowlands episode 2 Mating Season in the character of Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 20: In NARCISSUS, the character of Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) represents the title role while the character of Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) is his cast off lover, the nymph Echo.  Echo is also alluded to in the final exchange between Alex and Drew (Brian Woodford) when Drew echoes each of Alex’s lines.

Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus
Narcissus is a painting by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, painted circa 1597–1599
Shadowlands TV series inspiration for episode 1 Narcissus
Echo and Narcissus (John William Waterhouse, 1903, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Shadowlands Easter Egg 21: The dimensions of Rudy’s (Charlie David’s) art studio in Pygmalion Revisited are the divine ratio used in Greco-Roman architecture as well as classical art. The divine ratio or golden mean is found throughout nature, art and architecture such as the Great Pyramid in Giza, the Parthenon in Athens, and the Great Mosque of Kairouan. In art it is found in Leonardo da Vinci’s illustrations of polyhedra in ‘De divina proportione’,

Golden Mean ratio in the Pygmalion Revisited home of Rudy (Charlie David) & Xavier (Marc Devigne)
Golden Mean ratio in the Pygmalion Revisited home of Rudy (Charlie David) & Xavier (Marc Devigne)

Salvador Dalí explicitly used the golden ratio in his masterpiece, The Sacrament of the Last Supper. Mondrian has been said to have used the golden section extensively in his geometrical paintings.

Charlie David's Phi tattoo seen in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Charlie David’s Phi tattoo seen in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited

The actor Charlie David has tattoos of the Fibonacci sequence on his inner left wrist identifying his personal numerology of 3-5-8 and the symbol Phi on his inner right wrist which correlates to the Fibonacci sequence. If a Fibonacci number is divided by its immediate predecessor in the sequence, the quotient approximates the Divine Ratio or Phi.

Shadowlands Easter Egg 22: in episode 1 Narcissus, Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) stands on a silver statue of an owl.  A statue of the goddess Athena is seen in the background.

The owl is the totem animal of Athena and she is known as the goddess of wisdom.  In this scene Thalia is trying to save Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) from his ultimate demise by offering wisdom that could ultimately save him from himself.

Athena, goddess of Wisdom
Athena, goddess of Wisdom ancient coin with her totem animal, the owl on the reverse side.
Statue of Athena hidden in plain sight in a scene in Shadowlands Narcissus
Statue of Athena hidden in plain sight in a scene in Shadowlands Narcissus
Thalia stands on the totem animal of the Greek goddess Athena, the owl in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus.
Thalia stands on the totem animal of the Greek goddess Athena, the owl in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus.

Additional wardrobe, props and set decor from the three episodes in the Shadowlands TV series may be hidden in plain sight allowing for an immersive re-watch for the curious viewer.

Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

If you enjoyed this, explore interviews with cast members of the Shadowlands series.

Charlie David (director of the Shadowlands series)

Marc Devigne (Xavier in episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’ of the Shadowlands series.

Oscar Moreno (Matteo in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Sean C. Dwyer (Alex in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of the Shadowlands miniseries)

Nicolas James Wilson (Will in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Vasilios Filippakis (Daniel in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of Shadowlands)

Brian Woodford (Drew in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands gay series)

Natasha Balakrishnan (Thalia in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands

 

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Win a Shadowlands Paperback

Win an autographed Shadowlands paperback by following two easy steps at the bottom of this post!

Introducing an experimental film from first time feature director Charlie David SHADOWLANDS.  Shadowlands will premiere as one of the Centerpiece films at qFLIX Film Festival in Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 21st at 7:15pm.  If you’re in the Philadelphia area, come out and meet some of the cast and crew including Charlie David, Nico Stagias, David Robert Moore, Nicolas James Wilson, Vasilios Filippakis, Sean C. Dwyer and Natasha Balakrishnan.  You can get tickets here.

The film which is made up of three unique stories was inspired by the short story anthology of the same title.  All the stories have a homoerotic nature as well as diving into elements that are supernatural, suspenseful and eerie.  We’ve shared one of the short stories from the Shadowlands paperback previously in this post with the story titled October 13th.

Shadowlands explores love in three stories – a narcissist grasping to comprehend it, a couple renegotiating a relationship, and star-crossed lovers mourning its loss.

Shadowlands paperback Narcissus
The film begins in 1928 with Alex, a plastic surgeon hell-bent on perfection, hosting a house party with an assortment of colorful guests. Amid romantic misfires it becomes apparent that the only person Alex is interested in is himself. 

Shadowlands paperback Mating Season
Oscar Moreno and Nicolas James Wilson in Shadowlands ‘Mating Season’

Fast forward to 1951 and a gay military couple exploring the idea of opening their relationship while on a remote camping trip when they encounter a mysterious stranger.

Shadowlands paperback Pygmalion Revisited
Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands ‘Pygmalion Revisited’

The stories conclude in 2018 with a painter who in mourning the loss of his lover, becomes obsessed with creating a realistic painting of him. The resulting piece is so beautiful and life like that he is drawn under its spell.

You can learn more about the painter’s story in this post about the film of Pygmalion Revisited. 

Shadowlands paperback

Enter a draw to win an autographed Shadowlands paperback by writing a review for one of Charlie David’s  books Boy Midflight , Shadowlands Mulligans on Amazon or an online bookseller of your choice.  Take a screen shot of your review and email then with your name and mailing address by Friday, April 20th to [email protected]

Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

If you enjoyed this, explore other chats with cast members of the Shadowlands series.

Marc Devigne (Xavier in episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’ of the Shadowlands series.

Oscar Moreno (Matteo in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Sean C. Dwyer (Alex in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of the Shadowlands miniseries)

Nicolas James Wilson (Will in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of the Shadowlands gay series)

Vasilios Filippakis (Daniel in episode 2 ‘Mating Season’ of Shadowlands)

Brian Woodford (Drew in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands gay series)

Natasha Balakrishnan (Thalia in episode 1 ‘Narcissus’ of Shadowlands

Learn about the hidden ‘Easter Eggs’ in the Shadowlands gay series

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October 31st – a Shadowlands story

October 31st - Charlie David books

It’s October 31st, Trick or Treat!  No tricks for my friends, just treats!  I wanted to share a story from my book Shadowlands. This story is dedicated to one of the guys in this story whose favorite holiday happens to be Halloween. 

Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

October 31st Shadowlands

IT WAS OCTOBER 31st AND THEY SAT ON THE SOFA WITH THE LIGHTS OFF.  

A movie flickered on the big plasma screen but neither of the men paid attention.  I call them men because they are in their late twenties though by all approximations they are still boys.  There are four others like them – living like a pack of wolves in a house with four bedrooms.  One lives in the garage.  Their own private Pleasure Island where they can smoke and drink and play poker and video games all day if they want and most days they do.

But tonight it’s just the two of them.  The best friends.  All the other boys have gone out.  A night on the town to howl at the moon and chase their own tail until it leads them back home again. 

 The house groans as the October wind blows against it and branches from the avocado tree tickle its roof.  It’s his favourite month; October that is and the one on the left.  The one wearing the sweat pants, cut into shorts just above the knee.  His legs are muscular, tan and smooth.  He likes to keep them that way although the other secretly wishes he’d let the hair grow – on his legs, his chest, face…

The other has a lot of secrets.

The one on the left is also wearing a tank top.  He’s proud of his muscular arms and this is no secret although he currently has them hidden, wrapped up in a blanket.  It’s October.  His favorite month and even though this is Los Angeles there’s a slight chill in the air. 

The one on the right is watching.  One eye on the TV and the other on his friend.  He’s in love.  This is another one of his secrets.  He also doesn’t like horror movies.  Secret number three.  He pretends to because they watch together.  In the dark and alone.

The one on the left has a girlfriend.  The one on the right wants to hate her but can’t.  In fact he loves her too.  Just in a different way.

Tonight is not special.  It’s like a hundred others they have spent together.  Sometimes she comes by the house and they will be lying on one of their beds shirtless.  Just home from a run.  She is his girlfriend and she has suspicions but those are her secret.

But they only lay together.  Not touching.  Just talking.  They talk for hours.

They love each other but in different ways.  That is their shared secret.

“If only you were a chick…” the one on the left has said with a laugh and not just once.

“If only you would try it…” the other would respond also laughing but it was a practiced trick to mask the pain.

If only.  If only.  A life punctuated with a conditioned statement.

And so they sit side by side.  Two grown men who are still boys.  One wants to touch the other.  That’s his secret.  The other longs to be touched.  That’s his secret.

It’s the hundredth night in a litany of others which have played out much the same.  Neither has the courage to take the first step.  Neither wants to upset the perfectly imperfect balance of what they have.  It’s love.  It’s fear.  It’s an unholy union that may never be realized. 

The one on the left doesn’t understand his thoughts or why he can’t concentrate on the TV.  He just wants a blowjob but hates himself for even thinking about his friend in that way.  He thinks it would offend him.  That he’d suddenly want more than he’d be able to give.  He dreams of a middle ground – a place where they both get what they want and need from the other but he imagines it can’t exist.

And so he does nothing.  He does nothing because he loves him.

The other only wants to touch his friend.  He only wants to be close and close and closer.  He only wants to make him happy.  He’s smart enough to know he will never be, can never be enough for him.  But he yearns to be more than what he is.  He wants to show his devotion and show it is distinct and special from the other boys.  But he hates himself for wanting something from his friend that he cannot offer.

He dreams of a middle ground – a place where they both get what they want and need from the other but he imagines it can’t exist.

It does.  But it’s a secret they may never know.

And so the one on the right does nothing.  He hugs a pillow a little tighter to his chest and does nothing because he loves him.

Is not one of the most powerful things to so love someone with all your heart and yet have the knowledge you will never have an opportunity to be intimate.  Like an iron in a fire always burning, always present is this love, unable to be extinguished or at the same time be of any use.

The one on the left slipped one hand under his t-shirt and casually pulled it up while carefully gauging his friends reaction.  He let the blanket fall off his shoulders onto the couch letting the one on the right get an unobstructed view of his tan stomach.  He let his hand rest there while he adjusted the bulge in his sweat pants to a no more comfortable but definitely more obvious position.

The one on the right was sweating.

Drip.  Drip.

He could feel the small beads gathering under his arms and his heart was screaming through his t-shirt.  He began to worry anxiously if the one on the left would be able to hear it pounding right through the pillow that he hugged to his chest.  He wanted to stop this stupid movie and stop this stupid dance that they both knew the steps to all too well.

“Kind of a shitty movie huh?” The one on the left mumbled through a yawn as he crooked one arm behind his head.

 “S’alright.  Not great,” the one on the right agreed.

  “Should we shut it off?”

 “We could.  You getting tired?” The one on the right asked as he reached for the remote. 

 “Nah.  Let’s just do something else.”

“Well I haven’t had a foot massage today,” the one on the right joked and dared to kick his friend in the shin. “Shouldn’t I get a reward for chasing you around the UCLA track three times a week?”

“Your reward is fitness and getting to watch my ass for twenty laps.”

“Well usually that’s only fifteen laps, you’re nearly lapping me on the last five.”

“That’s my reward,” the one on the left grinned a silly crooked smile.

The one on the right dropped his jaw ready to pose a question.  A question about the definition of his friend’s reward.  But the sentence hung on his tongue like a sky diver afraid to leap and never took flight. 

The one on the left swung his feet up onto the couch and adjusted the blanket behind him into a makeshift pillow.  “But since you brought it up, shouldn’t the winner get a massage first?  I promise the day you win, I’ll happily return the favor.” 

“You’ve heard of Tanya Harding right?  I’m not above that.”  The one on the right laughed and grabbed his friend’s foot and rested it on his thigh.  The boys who were men caught each other’s eye and then looked away quickly.  This was a new level of intimacy and neither knew exactly how to behave.

The one on the right rubbed his hands firmly over his friend’s foot, pressing his thumbs into the meaty flesh of his heel and toes.  It was just his foot but there was something incredibly exciting about touching him this way.  The one on the left let a small groan of approval escape his lips as he slid down further into the couch, pushing his feet right into the lap of his friend and resting his powerful legs on top of the other boy. 

The one on the right felt himself stiffen in his basketball shorts and push up precariously close to the elastic waistband.  His eyes danced over his friend’s contented face and he thought, ‘This is enough.  This is all I need.  Just to be able to make him happy.’

He arched and flexed the tan foot in his hands and then pushed them up and under the muscular calf, applying careful pressure as he went.

“Okay I may be an asshole but I’m not completely selfish,” the one on the left opened one eye and winked. “Give me your foot.  It’s a mutual reward.”

The one on the right felt like his shaking insides would betray him as he lifted his foot into the hands of his friend. 

Rough hands.  Rough hands handling him gently.

“Are you kidding me?  Have you ever walked a day in your life?  Your feet are like…really soft,” the one on the left guffawed and then started laughing.  “So what do we call this?”

            The one on the right looked up cautiously.  “What do we call what?

            “This.  What’s happening here.”

            “Um… I think it’s called a foot massage.”

            “You know what I mean.  You okay with it?”

            “Yeah.  Are you?”

            “Yeah, I think so.”

            The men who were feeling more and more like boys handled each other’s feet for the next few minutes in silence, each lost in his own thoughts.

            And questions.

                                                And hopes.

                                                                                    And fears.

            “You know…” the one on the left started and then stopped, lifting his friends leg gently to massage his calf. 

            “What?”

            “Nothing.”

            “Seriously what?  I need to know what you’re thinking.”

            “I don’t think I can talk about it,” the one on the left said as he rested his friend’s leg across his lap and let the foot fall on his chest where he could get a more convenient grip.

            Suddenly the one on the right didn’t need to hear what his friend was thinking.  He already knew.  It was obvious.  He could feel it pressed against the back of his leg.  Without a word he looked at his friend.  And his friend looked back at him.

            The avocado tree creaked against the house and shadows danced in the corners of the room.  The one on the left had taken a chance.  He hoped his friend would understand and accept it for exactly what it was. 

            No more.

                                    And no less.

            The one on the right pressed his leg down into the evidence of his friend’s arousal just to be sure.  Now was no time to make a mistake.  He took the left foot of his friend and placed it casually between his legs as he took the right foot up in his hands. 

            The one on the left wrapped his arms around the leg of the other and pressed his hips up against him.  He pushed his left foot gently into his buddy’s crotch and felt him straining against the mesh basketball shorts.  He stroked the bottom of his foot up and down along the length of his friend’s shaft, surprising himself at how much he was enjoying this kinky session.

            The one on the right pulled the foot in his hand up to his mouth and wrapped his lips around his friend’s toes.  He’d never imagined doing anything like this before but now that he found himself here it was quite possibly the most erotic experience in his life.  He pushed his hips forward against the foot of his friend.  The threat of how much pain he could cause him with the mildest of kicks excited him further.  He was at his mercy and he liked it.

            The one on the left was happy.  So was the one on the right.

            It was nothing like any night they had ever imagined having together. 

            And yet.  It was perfect.

            The shadows danced.  The house creaked.  The men acted like boys as they waited for the other wolves to chase their tails home.

October 31st Shadowlands

If you enjoyed October 31st, consider picking up my book, Shadowlands.  It’s available on Amazon, Chapters-Indigo, Dreamspinner Press or by asking at your favourite bookstore. 

Love books?  Me too!  Let’s connect on GoodReads. 

You can also learn more about the new Shadowlands TV series here.

The short story October 31st explores a bromance between a straight guy and a gay guy.  This dynamic is also explored in our short film FORCES.  You can watch it here.

Shadowlands miniseries is available on OUTtv and OUTtvGO in Canada and on Vimeo for our friends around the world.

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