Character Spotlight: Clay

June 1, 2015

Clay is probably my favorite character in I’ll Still Be There. He has a pretty healthy outlook on life love, and he’s just a real sweetheart. I hope you like him as much as I do. Here’s a short bio and an excerpt from the book.

Clay Bailey was born in 1922. The son of two leftist intellectuals, he grew up with a strong sense of social justice and equality, but he always knew that his parents’ egalitarian beliefs had their limits. As a teenager, Clay confirmed the desires he’d been feeling for years when he began an affair with a college student and protege of Clay’s father. After the inevitable discovery, Clay finds himself on his own and must do whatever he can to survive. Clay struggles not only to survive, but to find self-acceptance and even love in a world that he feels would prefer to close its eyes to the truth.

 

***These are just some dudes from the 30s that I found on Pinterest, but that one on the right could look a little bit like Clay. :)

1930s men.jpg

Excerpt:

 Clay’s parents were out of the house on a Friday night the next time Christopher came around. Clay was confused when he opened the door, thinking Christopher must have gotten mixed up.

 

“The meeting is at the Walkers’ house tonight,” Clay said.

 

“I—yes. Yes, I know. I, ah, wanted to speak with you, actually. Could I come in for a few minutes?”

 

Clay stood aside and held the door. Christopher walked into the parlor and stood nervously in the middle of the room. “Do you suppose I could have a drink?”

 

Though Christopher seemed incredibly nervous, Clay felt strangely calm. He could see everything, all at once, as clearly as if he were watching a film. He knew exactly what was going to happen, and he realized he wanted it to happen. He walked to the bar and poured the man a double, then brought it over to him and sat down on the sofa. Christopher stood awkwardly and looked at Clay, then sat down on the sofa too, leaving about two feet in between them.

“I’m—I wanted to apologize to you. I fear I behaved quite inappropriately when I was here a couple weeks back. I should never have disturbed you in your room. I just—I think you’re—I wanted to talk to you, but it’s difficult to do it when everyone is here. But it was out of line, and I’m so sorry….” He was beet red, and turned away from Clay as he took a large gulp of his drink.

 

“You only asked about my book,” Clay said, smiling at him. “Did you want to ask me about something else?”

 

Christopher looked sharply at him, though Clay was speaking mildly. Clay held his gaze, and Christopher downed the rest of his drink. “Sometimes I think you—you look at me,” he said, his voice hushed and halting.

 

Clay did nothing for a long time as the silence crackled all around him, then finally nodded. He would have spoken, but he didn’t know what to say. He licked his lips, and then Christopher was leaning toward him, closing the distance with jerky, hesitant movements. Clay had never kissed anyone, but he was ready to do it now. He moved forward to meet the young man, and their lips pressed together softly. He could smell the whiskey on Christopher’s breath. Christopher backed away quickly, looking everywhere but at Clay’s face.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I should go. I—this is not right. You’re just a kid, I’m so sorry.” He pushed his tumbler into Clay’s hand and stood up.

 

“I’m seventeen,” Clay said quickly, “not such a kid. I already know what I am. It wasn’t you.” He felt foolish now, as if the whole thing had been his fault. He was close to tears, but he didn’t want to cry in front of Christopher. Then he really would seem like a child.

 

“It was wrong. I should go. Please—oh God, please don’t tell your parents.”

Clay could only shake his head, but Christopher was already heading for the door. Clay got up and went after him, catching him by the arm on the front porch. They stared at each other in the porch light’s dim yellow glow, and every detail was vivid to Clay in that moment. Moths flitted about, banging up against the screen, and a fine sheen of sweat coated Christopher’s pale face. They kissed, not hesitantly like they had on the couch, but deeply, their bodies pressed close together. Clay felt as if he were in a dream and a nightmare all at once, both lost and found, and he knew he’d never stop wanting this. There was just nothing for it.

7 Responses to “Character Spotlight: Clay”

  1. Mark says:

    This sounds so great i really can’t wait to read this book.

  2. Keelan says:

    I really hope you love it! <3 Thanks!

  3. Avon says:

    That definitely looks like Clay, wow!!

  4. Keelan says:

    Oh good, I’m glad it works in your head too. I hesitate to post pictures of what I think the characters look like, because I want everyone to have their own that works best for them. That guy is cute, though. I like the way he’s smiling.

  5. Angela says:

    Thanks for the excerpt :)

  6. H.B. says:

    Thank you for the excerpt.

  7. Keelan says:

    You’re both welcome! If you follow me on my blog tour you can probably read half the book in excerpts. lol

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