Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #5 - L'hôtel Dieu

Dear Button,

if this is the hotel of God then I pray I never have to book in. All I've seen here are people with busted or missing body parts; or those wired to machines; or emaciated, bristled old men shuffling around with saline drips; or bodies parked up in wheelchairs with their brains on pause, and their only vaguely communicable thought coming by way of a long string of spittle hanging out their gobs... and they're the healthy ones. Even now, someone with the complexion of a litre of piss has just stumbled out the hepto-gastro unit and is giving off more light than the moon. It's scary. Death and disease are scary. 

Well already that's another romantic letter fucked! Instead of showing you some wonderful hidden part of me which you missed I've gone and highlighted a selfish, cynical part of me that you saw and didn't like. And I know there were many things in me like that. I even started noticing them myself... hating the parts of me I understood were pushing you away. Things which I'd maybe 
once even prided myself on then became a drowning weight that I wanted rid off. So sure, I could change these letters, rip this one up and start again, edit myself good, but what's the point? The truth will always come out eventually. I could spend every waking minute of every day regulating my actions and giving you what I think you want, but I can do nothing about scratching my arse and sniffing my fingers in my sleep. Human nature cannot be hidden, so why even try? Do that and you'll only end up living in fear of yourself – I know it. Still, if I seriously thought it'd change the course of water I'd probably do it. I'm as selfish as most when it comes to my own happiness. These letters probably prove that, that I want something even if it doesn't want me... Even if it gives itself to me out of pity.  Fuck, Button, did I really come all the way here to tell you this? If so I must be seriously out my mind, or intent on pushing you off towards Australia! Instead of leaving you expensive pieces of lace and words which should only be whispered into ears, I write about the sick and dying, piss and arseholes... What a fucked-up way to try and woo the dove.

Note to Strangers #1: The wind can change. Never be afraid to start again.

My Dearest Button, something incredible has happened: the wind has changed and I'm starting again. Oh I miss you! I miss you so fucking 'insanelyonly'!!!


I don't know if you ever visited this place (God's hotel) or not, though you may have as it is on the tourist trail and a hospital unlike anything you'd ever find in London. But just incase you've never passed through I will tell you that certain parts of this place are over 500 years old, that the main facade of the building runs along the west bank of the river Rhone, and at night (when all lit up) it kinda resembles something between Harrods, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament. Where I am now, in the dark of the cloisters which surround the huge inner court, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of silence. What only twenty minutes ago had looked and smelled like some unhealthy place of the damned now smells of cool marble stairs and chiseled and engraved stone. It smells of history and solitude and peace. It smells of old forest and woodlice. It smells of a place your heels may clip along any day soon. It smells of tomorrow. Button, in this monastic recluse, alone in the low hours of the night, I can smell the future – and it doesn't smell too bad. I don't know what that future will hold, or if you will be a part of it, but I hope you are and I hope we can share the beauty in my eyes together. Those are the things I can give you, the invisible things,  the things that perfect 20/20 vision is blind to. Ican give you that, and in exchange you can give me all the things which you have that I am missing - and I'm missing a lot. I'm missing a person like You.

Button, I think that life is about being complete, that we start off as nothing much and must somehow fill our void with enough understanding and wholeness so as to make death acceptable and welcome. I think we lose our fear of unknown things when we are completely satisfied with the known... that we must only hang on desperately to life when we have not fulfilled all there is to fulfill. But if we manage to do that, have it all and find some kind of inner peace, then death becomes welcoming, a place to rest eternal with everything we have. It's not without reason why death from a broken heart is a real phenomenon. It's because these great things in life complete us as people. They allow us the greatest spoil of all: peace in our time. Button, you gave me that peace. Your arms made me scared of death but not fear it. So I hope this smell of tomorrow is You... That you're finally coming to get me back.

My Darling. I had a universe of words to tell you – a million great things in a thousand different ways – but with just a few I think I've said what I wanted to say and so will leave it at that. It is strange though, not even an hour ago I was so sure that you'd never read these words, and now here I am, writing away with a furious passion, convinced that you'll find them... that somehow you just must.

The night is down and my soul is laid bare again. Button, when you find this note please please PLEASE leave me a reply in the cloisters. You should write it on yellow paper, neatly fold it, and place it in the angle of one of the low arches. I will not try to catch you at the game but will return as ever each day in the hope of finding that you've been and gone. If you're gone and want me to follow leave details for a rendez-vous, but if you're gone, never to return again, leave me nothing but a kiss.

X marks the spot...

Yours until forever may,


       Enola Gray. X


  1. Just as WFJ was a subversion of the crime genre, so these letters chew up the creased yellowing romance novel. And it's all done with love and a detailed knowledge of the gutter.

  2. Trust the French to call a grimy hospital L'hôtel Dieu.

    Human nature cannot be hidden, so why even try? Do that and you'll only end up living in fear of yourself

    Indeed. But one can also be too revealing, confessional. Tactics may be needed.

    I want something even if it doesn't want me

    That’s another sort of definition of Romantic Love. We tell ourselves there’s ambiguity but we’re kidding our egotistical selves.

    Though If I recognized pity I would give up. I don’t understand the ones who pursue and pursue when the cause is clearly hopeless. But then they usually solve the problem by killing the love object and/ or themselves. Like poor Tristram…

  3. What is all this 'Your comment will be visible after approval' stuff?

    Have you been fiddling with the settings again?

  4. Hiya Ben,

    I think a part of this work may show the 'emotional gutter' more than that of the street. But of course that will be there too... I think I've no real choice but to write characters who have seen a lot of life - and not too much of its good side.

    But this will be a 'romance', and in the truest sense, which will include showing some of the deep complexes that often fuel our desire to be loved no matter what. I think that most kinds of love are selfish in their pursuit... that they're an emotional trade-off (often a financial trade-off). Love Letters Gutter will not be about that kind of love (though will play out agaisnt it). The love that will be told of here will be of a rare and genuine type... A love that will make the world a teeny bit better. X

  5. Hiya Joe,

    It is a weird hospital, and from the architecture and the stone walls and drought that sweeps through the place it does give of the feeling that maybe it's not quite as sanitary as a modern hospital should be. But I know that is just a misconception as it is infact one of the leading, best equipped and most successful hospitals in France (and that says a lot).

    Yes, I agree, one can be too revealing and that is important for this story as before we see 'genuine love' I want to show a different kind of love, a selfish love (that we mosly all feel and of which I'm more guilty than most). To show that we need to have someone who'll say all the things we normally keep hidden. We need a desperate person, someone prepared to go 'all in' to recuperate his losses... Someone who doesn't quite realize just what the truth is saying about himself and how ugly it can be (even if it is kinda tragically beautiful too because of all the vulnerability and human faults which are put on display). It's against that backdrop that a more genuine love will occur and be tested.

    Love as Pity...

    Hmmm... it can get tricky that one, especially if you are fighting to save a relationship and postpone a broken heart. In those times it can become very easy to accept someone staying no matter what. How many of us have physically blocked the door, crying, to stop a lover leaving? Hinted that maybe we'd not want to carry on if they left? Done just about every lowdown rotten trick in the book to preserve what we have, not thinking for a moment of the impossibiliy of the situaion or the future consequences of having someone stay like that? I've done it, and the moment I got my own way I realized how selfish it was, how silly, and ultimately that it is nothing but a stable ground for misery and hate. But in those extreme emotional moments the future becomes nonexistent... you're fighting for your immediate existence and well-being. That goes back to the selfish love I speak about.

    So as I say: Love is not a logical emotion. I agree with everything you say, I think and say the same myself, but when it comes to the cruch I'm capable of doing everything I know I shouldn't.


  6. This is why I stopped having affairs with married men! lol

  7. I do not believe that you had to google TMI.. you are the master of it .. giggle..
    I have to say I love the line "I want something even if it doesn't want me"..story of my life :)

    I also love the note to strangers.. that is just so true ... another great read
    Thanks Shane xx

  8. TMI. LOL.
    I've been busy/away ... not left.
    These letteres remind me of the 24 hour conversation I would have with my ex, when he wasnt here. That was part of the problem - I had already 'discussed and agreed' things that he didn't even know about.
    I hope Enola gets to read at least one of these, or there will be hell to pay when they finally meet again!

  9. Hiya Ruth,

    Well the true master of TMI was Tristy, endlessly talking about the abhorrent state of his underpants yet never bothering to change them, haha.

    I think throughout LoveLetterGutter there will be Notes to Strangers... maybe some a little longer, maybe even entire letters?

    Thanks as ever for reading Ruth, X

  10. Hiya Gurney,

    Oh you never have to justify not being around.

    As I always say*: the greatest benefit of being my friend is you don't have to read my words!

    Along with the others here you've got the keys to the city and you can come and go as you please. X

    *I've never once said this before... tho I have now!

  11. **********NOTE TO ALL**********

    There will be 2 more consecutive letters and then they will begin to be separated by the short genre fiction I have planned.

  12. When it comes to the crunch I'm capable of doing everything I know I shouldn't.

    That's the thing isn't it - it's so easy to see the faults in other people's behaviour, less easy to confront it in ourselves.

    I mean I can recognize as mad things I did years ago that I would hope I'd never do again. But even if I don't, I know from experience that I'll do equally ridiculous new things.

  13. Hi Joe,

    Excuse me I missed your other little comment about "visible after approval".

    I've purposely set it up like that to stop spam comments going to the subscribers. Now when you comment it goes to my email and anything not spam I OK it.

    The spam problem is Blogger being very crafty and (I suspect) selling spamming space to companies. Sure, spam never gets onto the blog, but it does go through to my email and everyone else who subscribes to the comments. So it's a very underhand way Blogger has found of allowing certain spam through its own defense system and still getting to a large audience. With comment moderation i can prevent spam going to anyone but me.

    I know it's not great for those who like seeing what their comment looks like published, but it stops people unsubscribing for no real reason. X

  14. Hey Shane.
    I saved these up for my Sunday evening reading and you didn't disappoint. Not that I thought you would for a second.
    I love it - kinda want him to find her but then I don't want the story to finish either.
    No doubt you have other treats in store for us though.
    Hope all's well with you :)

  15. Well you FUCKWIT where's that "short genre fiction?" I'm WAITING.

  16. Hiya DAVID

    That you're waiting is a HUGE compliment. I'm NOT even WAITING for yours. X


If you're here to write something malicious I thank you in advance for wasting your precious time on me. X