In trying to put together the story of Sex Magick, I keep coming back to the question of understanding Raphael’s Moral Component (inspired by Jeff Lyons’ Anatomy of a Premise Line). Lately I’ve been coming to understand that Raphael’s blind spot is my blind spot and that his demon is a projection of mine. This shouldn’t come as a shock to any writer who digs deeply into himself in order to understand his characters, but I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize this. Perhaps it’s because that is the very nature of a blind spot—you can’t see it until someone or something points it out. What pointed it out for me is this story.
Raphael has an intense fear of intimacy. He feels he is damaged goods because his upbringing taught him that not only is same-sex attraction sinful and damnable to Hell, unbridled sexuality is almost as bad and needs to be channeled by love and the intention to procreate. Raphael is from an Italian Catholic family. I haven’t thought of a good last name for him, yet: Pagani and DeArchangelis are way too “on-the-nose”.
Liberation has held it’s dangers for Raphael, if not for his soul, for his mental health. To the extent that his sexuality and libido are liberated, he feels himself spiritually damned. Not only does he feel that he, himself, is damaged goods, but that his damage, his dirtiness, his sin will engulf other people and drag them down if he gets too close to them.
At first I thought this played out in two separate ways: one with his clients and one with people he loves, but there aren’t too many people in Raphael’s life whom he will admit to loving. His long-term client, Alastair, comes close, but Raphael won’t admit that his feelings for him are love. Raphael does have a deep hunger to be loved, however, and that leads him to use his charms to seduce hapless boys into loving him, but rejecting them when he starts to like them or they start showing signs of liking him in a less-than-fleeting manner. Tricks, or one-night-stands, or short affairs are best for him. He can feel the warmth of human closeness and the heat of romance without needing to stick around for others to find him a disappointment in some regard or another.
For someone who works in the sex industry he has a deep shame about sexual and physical contact that one wouldn’t think a seemingly happy, successful sex worker would have. For he does seem to be relatively content, relatively prosperous and relatively stable. But his deep, family programming, ironically, has driven him to this life. The money exchange distances Raphael from the guilt he might feel over “corrupting” another soul. In fact, Raphael has strict rules about not taking on married clients or clients who are too young (and they do come along).
But Tobias is different. Why?
Perhaps Raphael is at a different place in his life. In the early pages I typed, Raphael expresses a desire to go out on a date and enjoy himself like a regular human being. Asmo quickly warns him that Raphael, despite his rhetoric, is in danger of falling in love. It almost happened within recent memory—Raphael’s falling in love. Raphael met a guy who seemed as lust-filled and carefree as Raphael, himself appears. Raphael was becoming fond of this person, and though Raphael doesn’t follow the trope of one-night-only one finds in many romances of this type, he did endeavor to see this guy more than his usual number of times. And Asmo killed him. Raphael had no knowledge of this—he thought that the guy, Philip, had gone ghost on him.
We need to know that Asmo is a killer. I don’t know how this is going to be revealed, but it is an important plot point and will probably be something Raphael needs to find out later rather than sooner. Will Asmo kill Alastair? I don’t think so. I thought so for a while, but Raphael keeps Alastair at an appropriate emotional distance. How does Asmo kill? He kills by arousing men and then draining them of their sexual, then their life energy. He is an Incubus who not only leaves his subjects depleted, but dead. I’d like to think that Asmo seduces his prey by appearing as the most desirable person his victim can imagine. In Tobias’ case, that means Asmo will appear as Raphael.
I still have a bunch of plot problems to solve: how will we know that Asmo is a killer? How will we know that he intends to kill Tobias? How will Asmo know how/where to find Tobias? How will Raphael know of Asmo’s intentions? How will Raphael rescue Tobias? How will Raphael know that he loves Tobias–or could love Tobias? Will Tobias’ roommates get zapped by Asmo? So many questions. But good, fruitful questions which beg the types of answers a good story provides, I think.
What do you think? Got any solutions that should be staring me in the face? Let me know in the comments or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your interest and your ideas.