Viscount Zachary Wood
Near Tunbridge Wells
15 January 1885
My dear brother,
You can't imagine how overjoyed I was to receive your response to my letter! I
had left off writing to you for so long because I feared that, our father having
disinherited me, you might disown me as well. Forgive me, brother, I should have
known you better.
Yes, I am aware that my name has been stricken from the family Bible; that act
of vengeance was performed before my eyes. I am not surprised that our father did
not tell you why I am no longer a part of the family. Where to start? Best start
with the worst, brother, and if this damns me in your eyes then you need read no
further. Your younger brother is an invert, Zachary; a deviant. A queer, a faggot.
For that I was expelled from Eton, and for that I was expunged from Woodburne Hall,
stripped of my title and estranged from all I love.
I was not by any means the only invert at Eton College; you know that as well as
I, brother! But unnatural acts can be forgiven if they can be ignored. If one is
exposed in one's deviance, however, then the blind eye becomes wrathful.
My exposure was not accidental. It was arranged deliberately, coldly, and maliciously
by one Orlando Bloom, and one day I will be revenged on him.
Orlando and I met early in my first term at Eton. Even now I must admit he is an
unusually attractive man. His own scurrilous adventures were legion, but he is
a master of deceit. His secrecy was only finally breached by his own malice…
but I will come to that.
I fell in love, Zachary. Many young men fall in love. I have the misfortune to
be a man who falls in love with other men. McCauley Culkin and I were in the same
form, and when first I set eyes on him I knew, I knew! It was like a miracle when
he told me that he felt the same way about me.
Unfortunately, Orlando's eye had also fallen on McCauley. They had been lovers
briefly at the beginning of term, but McCauley came to prefer me. That enraged
Orlando, who was not accustomed to defeat. Orlando could have had any boy he wanted
honesty forces me to admit he could have had me, had circumstances been
different. And now he does have me. He has me as his sworn enemy.
Orlando informed the headmaster that I was a satyr, a rake who enticed and ruined
young men. One evening when McCauley had come to my rooms, Orlando led the Headmaster
there. Not content to have my lusts exposed to the world, Orlando also had arranged
for a quantity of opium to be secreted in my rooms.
If you are still reading, brother; if you have not cast this missive into the fire
after the first paragraphs, surely you are tempted to do so now. This is the tale
of a coward, of a cad; exposed in my sins I cry "unfair! I have been wronged!"
Please believe that I am not trying to excuse my actions. I have been stripped
of the title of Honourable, but not yet totally of the sentiment. I acted against
the laws of man and of God and yet… my only crime is that I loved. I fear
I shall never commit that crime again.
To continue: I left Kent and returned to London, but far from our family's townhome
in Belgravia. Don't look for me on the streets, brother. If you are walking the
streets where I now live, you have more important things to look to like
your life. Much has passed in the months since I came to live on the streets of
London. The Peelers call us gangs'. I call them my family, since my own family
no longer acknowledges me. They care for me, and I for them.
And, best of all, I have found my enemy. Orlando is the leader of a gang
whose territory borders ours. I am no longer a naïve, helpless first-former.
I am a man now, and I will have a man's vengeance.
Brother, if you have not lost all respect and love for me by reading this letter,
I would gladly tell you more of my life here. Truth to be told, I would welcome
the opportunity to speak with someone about all that has happened to me. But I
shall again await your reply before presuming to give you knowledge you may prefer
not to have.
Could you find it in your heart to give me news of our mother and of Hannah? And,
if your charity is large enough… pray for me, brother.
Letter to Zachary
Viscount Zachary Wood
Near Tunbridge Wells
My dearest brother,
The promptness of your reply made me smile, and the first sentences of your reply
made me laugh.
Yes, Brad is fully as disreputable as he appears. He is a wonderful courier; the
perfect choice for any task that involves passage of information, in truth, and
that is why I chose him to carry my letters. He is also a panderer, a merchant
of flesh. He knows every procurer in London, and has sampled most of their wares.
He shepherds the rentboys who work alone, warns them off the more dangerous of
the regular customers, connects them with high-paying customers… and then
takes his toll, either in coin or in kind.
And how do I know all this, Brother? Perhaps you do not wish to hear this part
of my story.
I left Woodburne with our father's words burning me like acid. Animal, he called
me. Licentious, debauched, and vile, a hell-born, lascivious, misbegotten trollop....
ah, what's the use? You have as much reason as I to know the lash of his tongue
and the eloquence of his invective.
Do you know, he never mentioned the opium. It is acceptable for a Wood of Woodburne
to be a drug addict. And had my transgression been with a woman I might still have
been expelled you know the rules at Eton but our father would have
clapped me on the shoulder in appreciation. A son who acts the rake would have
been a credit to him in his mind. But a son who fucks boys… luckily I'm
only the second son. Expendable.
I returned to London in despair. I had nowhere to go. We have many friends in London,
but they are friends of the Earl of Woodburne and his Lady. They were friends of
The Honourable Elijah Wood, not of the disinherited, disreputable Elijah I am now.
It did not take me long to become much more disreputable. I went first to our …
to his townhome on Belgrave Square. It was automatic; that had always been
my London home, and I hoped to collect some of my belongings. I should have known
better our father had sent word ahead. You know Walters never liked me…
he derives his own pride from the status of those he serves. He grovelled before
you, the Viscount, but had no energy to expend for a second son. Also, he had always
seen something in me … as it happens, he saw the truth.
Maisie was my salvation. She's petted me since I was a baby, and in her love for
me she found the courage to defy Walters. She slipped out of the house and found
me huddled in the park around Wellington Arch. She brought me a bag of food, clothes,
and money. I hope her theft wasn't discovered. Can you find some way to thank her
That first night I wandered up Piccadilly and, by fate or by pure foolish luck,
found my way to the Café Royale. You may have heard of this establishment,
Brother. When I entered there was a table of gentlemen wearing carnations on their
lapels… carnations of the most astonishing shade of green! I tried
not to stare like a lout, but they noticed me straight away and invited me to their
table. I found out quickly that it was not my staring that caught their attention,
but my face. I have always rued the smoothness of my complexion and the slightness
of my figure, which give me so boyish an appearance. I now have cause to be grateful
for that, as boyish prettiness is greatly valued by Mr. Oscar Wilde and his compatriots.
Yes, Brother, I walked directly into the lair of that famous roué, Mr. Wilde.
"There is a destiny that shapes our ends…" and indeed, it was
the shape of my end that steered my destiny.
My only fear, during the weeks that I was passed from one man to another in the
Café Royale, was that I would be recognised. That fear was not for my own
shame, and certainly not for our father's (I would love to have him know that his
son was fucking strangers in a gentleman's club), but for the pain it would give
our mother to know that her younger son was making his living as a courtesan.
Having been beaten into good grammatical habits at Eton, you will have noticed
that I speak of these adventures in the past tense. My career as an elegant toy
for the polished habitués of the Café Royale was brief. It was only
a few weeks before I chanced to be chosen by a man whose tastes were more brutal
than some. His use of me left me half-conscious, which frightened him, and he abandoned
me to wander, dazed and wounded, along the docks near the Tower Bridge.
There, of course, I became game for a rougher class of customers. Many of the rowdies
who work on the docks prefer to end their day with a pint of bitter and a tender-arsed
boy. But again my tenure in that trade was brief; and again it was abbreviated
Am I shocking you, Brother? I am no longer affected by these memories. They happened
a long time ago to a different Elijah. Even more distant is the Elijah that you
knew. I have come a long distance from shooting parties in the Pennines and riding
out in Hyde Park of a Sunday afternoon. The fresh-faced lad in the Eton jacket
might have existed in another century.
Dockworkers are, for the most part, a kindly sort beneath their coarse manners.
However, always there are men who take their pleasure from the pain of others,
and it was only a matter of time before I inadvertently sold myself to one. This
time I was beaten far more severely, and again I was hauled to a distant location
and dumped, unconscious and near death, on the doorstep of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
They are good people there; they take in wastrels and waifs without judgment. For
two days they nursed me… and then Viggo found me.
Viggo was the leader of one of the most feared street gangs of WC2 and Soho. He
had learned that he could find recruits among the outcasts on the pallets at St.
Martin-in-the-Fields, and there he found me.
He took me to their headquarters … I will not tell you just where that headquarters
is, but it is near to Charing Cross… and there he and his men nursed me,
fed me, cared for me.
He is a good man, Brother. Viggo is staunch and honourable; he is kind and fair.
He is also a career criminal who makes his living at odds with the law, and the
leader of a gang of men who can be as ruthless and cruel as Attila the Hun. He
is now the only father I have. I love him.
And, like a father, he has made me his heir.
But… more on that later. I fear I have already given you more information
than you will able to tolerate, dearest Zachary. Please, for mercy's sake, write
back to me soon and reassure me that what I have told you has not killed your regard
your loving brother,