In 2009, I was living in China watching videos of hot rockers on YouKu (Asia’s version of YouTube) when I stumbled upon while X Japan. They had the look of my fledging rocker plot bunnies that had been eating my brain. The talented Yoshiki fascinated me, but the pink haired wild Hideto Matsumoto drew me in.
Within minutes of finding Hideto Matsumoto and giggling at his crazy antics with other band members, I was sobbing. He died with a towel wrapped around his neck attached to his Tokyo apartment’s doorknob.
His death haunted me. I kept asking why? No answers came other than I wished in my heart that things had been different for this lovely man. It broke my heart. I’d lost Hideto Matsumoto before I knew I adored him. Now I will always miss him. The concept hung over me until it worked itself into the story I had been working on: The Great Wall.
Styx Wong is in love with his best friend Jin Lan though he’s so deep in the closet he doesn’t even know there’s a way to get out. (That’s how I found many parts of Asia though that’s changing with Internet access).
To quote a friend from Suzhou: “There is no gay in China. That’s a Western concept.”
Unfortunately, Styx has bought into this idea and his feelings for Jin Lan are more than unacceptable they are simply impossible. He cannot be in love with another man.
Styx’s solution is to take a cocktail of strong medications to help numb and separate himself from this uncontrollable need to be with Jin. In China, you don’t need a script in for medications, you simply go to the pharmacy and buy them.
The side effects cause Styx to seek relief through autoerotic asphyxiation. You can imagine what occurs… but this time I can save him. This time there’s a second chance at life… the only question is will Styx take it?
Excerpt of The Great Wall:
Darkness encroached. Styx tried to loosen the towel, struggling to remain conscious, but he couldn’t. Before the blackness descended, bitter regret crashed over him. His life would end before he’d lived it, before he explored the connection with Jin.
His pathetic life played out, fingers fumbling uselessly against the stuck dowel.... Maybe Jin might have returned the affection, but now he’d never know.
Anguish rushed to the forefront, and every unseized opportunity mocked his fading existence. He hated that he hadn’t taken any of the opportunities to find a bit of happiness. He would die having buried who he was, who he could have been... who he’d never be.
“No! Please, Styx!”
The screaming drifted to Styx from far away, the familiar voice barely penetrating his disoriented mind. Someone shook him until his teeth rattled. Didn’t the shaker understand he wasn’t one of those colorful cocktails at a bar?
He tried to speak, but nothing came from his dry mouth. Opening his heavy eyelids, he saw Jin peering into his face.
Styx had always wanted Jin, but what was Jin doing there? Not that he minded.
Was this his second chance?
“Styx! Oh no! I don’t know what I’m doing. I only watched the safety movie on how to do this.”
Styx wanted to comfort Jin in his panic, but his body wasn’t working. His eyes slid shut.
The towel had been untwined from his neck, followed by heavy, rhythmic pressure on his chest. Jin touched his face. “I think I’m supposed to do this?” His mouth covered Styx’s.
Oh, Jin’s soft lips pressed against his. The lips were real, not like his wishes and dreams. Styx’s heart raced.
What the fuck? Why was Jin blowing in his mouth? Why didn’t Jin know how to kiss better?
Styx tried to wrap his arm around Jin’s waist, wanting to pull him close. When Jin blew into his mouth again, Styx angled his head, opened his lips, and kissed back. His tongue followed his natural reaction and licked into the mouth of his dreams.
His attempted kisses muffled Jin’s moans, and the floaty, happy sensation evaporated.
“Oh, Styx!” Jin squirmed away. Damn! Styx’s arms flopped to his sides. Jin disappeared and said, “He’s in here.” Styx wanted to make everyone aware he was ne. If only his eyes would stay open. Exhausted and with his head throbbing, maybe he should sleep for a bit?
Before he could, someone lifted him onto a bed and covered his naked body. The bed had wheels, because Styx moved and bumped over the threshold as he exited the apartment. Where was he going?
“I’m right here, Styx.” Jin’s hand clutched his.
Oh, well, it didn’t matter where they were going as long as Jin was with him.
“They’re going to x you, Styx.” Poor Jin still sounded upset.
Styx longed to make Jin feel better, but when he tried to open his eyes, he failed. He twitched his hand.
Jin, as usual, knew exactly what he wanted and locked their hands together.
Yes! Styx squeezed, but Jin’s hand was snatched away from him. No!
Not sure how much time had passed, he woke to Jin’s voice. “We’re headed to the hospital. They’ll make you better.”
He clasped his fist hard to let Jin know he heard him.
“Oh, good. Okay. Everything will be ne. Not letting you go.” Jin’s voice sounded watery. Styx tried to open his eyes again but lacked the energy. “Not letting you leave me, Styx.”
He wanted to tell Jin he would never willingly part from him, but he was dragged back to the peaceful dark.
The Great Wall Blurb:
Destiny will be decided by a battle between heart and mind….
Jun Tai “Styx” Wong loves two things: playing the drums and his best friend, Jin. But being a good Chinese son means he can’t have either—he’ll have to marry a girl of his parents’ choosing and settle into a traditional job. His move to the bigger city of Suzhou is both a blessing and curse, as living with Jin makes it harder for Styx to suppress his desires. Nearly dying while trying to eradicate his feelings serves as a wake-up call for Jin, who takes extreme measures to keep Styx safe from harm.
When given a second chance at life and happiness, will Styx be able to claim the future he wants with Jin, his bandmates, and his music? Can love and hope grow with the constantly looming threat of Styx’s parents ordering him home? Great things await—if Styx finds the courage to break down the wall that stands between him and everything he wants.