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Thursday, 29 August 2013

467

They didn’t make love again for six months, though they did remain friends.  Keith would pop in after The Lord Grey closed or sometimes just later on in the evening if things were quiet in the pub.  They drew pleasure from each other’s company.  He would talk lightly about his ‘conquests’, pretending not to watch her reaction.  She hoarded her love quietly within herself.  She’d been to hell and back with her dad.  She’d learnt the hard way to store little bits of happiness when she got them.  And spending time with Keith made her happy.  As for the sex, it didn’t matter to her.  So she told herself.  Anyway, she couldn’t have proper sex because of what her dad had done to her.  So she told herself.  And friendship was pretty good anyway.  And all of these things were half true.  But sometimes she would smell his midnight odour, the aroma of beer and sweat and cheap aftershave and she would feel a stirring within her, a small wrenching in her gut and her heart and she doubted.



Episodes 1 to 460 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter) 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

466

“Men … well … wai’re a bit sluttish, ya knaow.  We loik a lot of sex, and wai aren’t always too pa’ticular about how we get it.  Some men prefer it without ties, with strangers.  I dunno.  Oi had that when Oi was on the straits.  Oi got enough fuckin’  with paiple who didn’t care about mai.  Paiple who despised me.  They thought that because Oi naided the money Oi was a nothin’.  But sex is noice.  Very noice.” He smiled suddenly, quickly and endearingly. “ And if ya can do it with someone you loike … someone you love … then it’s seriously good.  Aiven a nice blaoke ya pick up in the pub.  Long as he doesn’t look down on ya.  Long as there’s somethin’ there.  Some spark.  Though Oi’m getting’s a bit sick of that too, if ya wanna knaow.  Oi love Tom.  And Oi reckon Oi’m getting’ half in love with you, Esmé.  But Oi naid … fuck it, Ezz, Oi naid men in moi loife.  Oi daon’t wanna hurt ya, and Oi’m sorry Oi have.  But Oi could never be one hundred per cent straight.  Never.  No matter how much you main to me.  If Oi promised ya Oi would, Oi would be lyin’.”
Esmé looked at him for many heartbeats.  “I don’t know, Keith.  I can’t.  I … I need time to think.”
Keith looked bleak.
Esmé reached down and slapped his cheek lightly. 
“Stop it.”  She felt much happier than she had before.  I’m getting half in love with you. But the more rational part of herself argued forcibly for normality—a boyfriend who was straight, who loved only her, who wouldn’t pick up men in pubs.  Like they’re all queuing up, she thought cynically.  “I said I’d think about it.”
“Can wai go on bein’ friends?”  Keith looked so anxious she almost gave in right there.
“Maybe.  We’ll see.  Now drink up your coffee and go away!”

“Oi haven’t got any!  Honestly, the service in this place!”


Episodes 1 to 460 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter) 

465

“I  … I hoped I’d …”
“I’m here, amn’t Oi?”
“Yeah, but …oh, Keith!”
Keith’s accent had strengthened as it always did when he was emotional.  “Oi remember after Tom took mai in.  Oi was grateful—don’t think Oi wasn’t—but Oi wasn’t in love with him.  Oi didn’t even love him, Oi think.  Oi was just a hardened street punk.  But hai was koind to mai.  He wasn’t in love with me, come to think of it.  He felt sorry for mai.  And of course there was sex.  But he was koind.  Moind you, he didn’t put up with any shit from mai.  But he … he showed he cared, that he loiked me for more than my cock and arse.  That he loiked me.  For me.  And ya kanow, Ezz, ya can tell what a man is loike from what he’s loike in bed.  Shows ya what hai’s loike in his heart.”
Esmé thought about that.  Keith had always been kind and caring in bed.  When she’d been unable to make love—like normal people, she thought bitterly—he’d been totally unfazed.  He’d made sure she’d had pleasure in bed. He’d been affectionate and loving.
“Oi love Tom.  And he loves mai.  But he doesn’t mind about you and me.”
“He knows?”  Esmé was furious and embarrassed. 
“Hai’s part of my loife, Ezz.  Of course he knaows.  But only that I’m sweet on ya.”
Esmé looked stricken. 
“Not the details,” Keith added quickly, guessing what Esmé was imagining.  “That’s proivate between you and me.”
Esmé looked at him, doubting.
“Ya think Oi’d tell him about our proivate stuff?  Have Oi taold you anything about him and mai?  What we do?”

“No.  No you haven’t.”  All of a sudden Esmé wondered exactly what they did in bed.  She’d never asked Luke what men did.  But then, he wouldn't know, because he'd never had anyone.  Or had he?  And now she wondered.  What exactly happened with bums and cocks and stuff?  Exactly?


Episodes 1 to 400 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter) 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

464

“Ah.”  Keith tensed but he didn’t let go of her hand.  “I knaow I’m a bit of a slut, Ezz.  Oi … Oi’m gay, maostly.  Ya knaow that.”
“Yeah.  I know.  I’m just being silly.”
“Nao, not silly.  But just because Oi pick up a blaoke an’ we do the daid doesn’t mean I love him.  That Oi’m his friend.”
“You love Tom.”
“Yeah.  But Tom took me off the straits.  He saved me. He saved moi loife.  And yeah, we fuck. Nao.  Oi’m wrong.  We make love.  Loik you and Oi do.”
Esmé didn’t speak.
“Moi mum and dad were the one-marriage toipe.  Ya knaow, faithful until daith.  But they didn’t love each other.”
“My parents didn’t either.  I think mum was in love with dad.  But she was so frightened of him.  And he didn’t love her.  He was a narcissist.”
“Your dad was a cunting prick and I hope every minute of his loife is a torment and agony.  But that’s not the point, Ezz.  You can have the form of the ideal, marriage.  But maybai not the reality.  What matters is that ya love each other.”
“And do you?”
“Of course.  I love you and I love Tom.”
“You love Tom more.”
“Daon’t torment yaself, Ezz.”



Episodes 1 to 380 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter) 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

463

From this blog
The next evening, when she had to go to work, because she was expected and needed, and because she herself needed the money, she dragged herself into Don Vittorio’s and put on a face.  From time to time, her co-worker and the owner would look at her, quizzically, but neither openly asked her what the problem was. And then, as she’d dreaded, towards the end of the evening Keith came in, a small smile on his lips as he said hullo, his eyes twinkling with affection and friendship.
She couldn’t help herself—she smiled back.  And yet she also wanted to weep.
Keith knew at once something was wrong.
“You OK?”
“Yeah.”  Esmé was ashamed of her feelings. Love?  Foolishness.  Hope was dangerous.  Just accept what was.
 “Yeah, roight.  I knaow somethin’s wrong, Ezzaloona.  Tell mai.”
 Esmé started to cry quietly.
“Oh, Ezz.”  Keith got up from his side of the table and knelt in front of her.  “Is it your dad?” 
Esmé shook her head unable to speak, but it might as well have been.  Because she would never be right, not after what had been done to her.  Holding tightly to Keith’s hands, she said over her sobs, “I saw.  The other night.  You and …him.”



Episodes 1 to 320 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter) 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

462


She showered and dressed.  One of her cuts was still bleeding.  Her guilt and self-loathing over her need to hurt herself added to her depression.  And she would have to tell Luke.  Something, anyway.  Because she and Keith ….
She dragged herself to the uni.  Just because her life was in ruins didn’t mean she had to just give up.  But somehow, the magic had gone out of French.  Instead of something precious and enchanted, it seemed tedious and pointless.  Why bother at all?  But she had to.  She had to have a piece of paper which qualified her for a job.  She couldn’t work at a café for the rest of her life.  Could she?  And that made her remember that she would have to go on working at Don Vittorio’s.  She couldn’t just resign.  She needed the money.  She knew Luke would help her out for a week or two.  But until she had found herself a new job somewhere else, she couldn’t just walk out of the job at the café.  And it was a good job too, by the standards of hospitality.  The owner, a woman, paid her better than minimum wage, and when she’d earned the maximum she could each week before CentreLink would start cutting back her welfare payments, she was paid the rest in cash. She was given responsibility, trusted.  She did a good job, she knew that.  Somebody other than her father and mother appreciated her.  She was important to the owner.  And the owner was nice, too.  And she, Esmé,  made good coffee.
Idiot! she abused herself.  Staying in a place just because you make good coffee there!  You can make good coffee anywhere.  Having made the decision she felt better.  She would look online to see if there were any jobs higher up Brunswick Rd.  Close enough to their house. 
The resolution to action cheered her up a little and she was able to pay attention to the lecturer. 
She was unable to face Luke, so went to a different café for lunch.

And, luckily, she didn’t have to work that evening.


Episodes 1 to 320 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)

Chapters 14 & 15

Now uploaded here


461



For the first time since she’d left home, when she woke in the morning, her head and her heart aching, there was dried blood on the sheets.
She lay for a long time staring at the ceiling.  She didn’t want to get up.  She wanted to hide, here, in her room, and never have to see anyone, do anything.  She heard Luke moving about in the kitchen, banging cupboards, the sound of the kettle boiling and then hurried footsteps down the passage, various muttered imprecations and the slam of the front door.  Still she stayed in bed.
The light drifted across the window and her room brightened. 

In the end she knew she had to get up.  Life went on.  Her father’s abuse had taught her that.  Sighing, she climbed out of bed and went through to the kitchen.  She put on the kettle.  Tea would help.  Tea always helped.  Even though her father had been from Yugoslavia and her mother from Italy, she had always found tea made her feel better.  She loved coffee; she made good coffee in the café; she drank too many cups of coffee a day.  But somehow tea calmed her.  The ritual of making it.  The wait while it brewed.  The careful precise mixture of milk and tea and time to make a good cuppa.  Forced patience and focus.  Zen.



Episodes 1 to 260 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

460


Esmé and Keith met again that night, after the café and the bar had closed.  They went back to his flat and made love.  And again the night after.  But the night after that, Esmé wasn’t working.  She wished she worked every night at the café, so that she could meet Keith every night.  She knew she shouldn’t monopolise him but she couldn’t help herself.  He made her happy.  She knew somewhere inside that he was gay.  But he was so loving to her that she thought he’d changed, that he loved her so much that he’d set aside his gayness to be with her.  That he was no longer interested in men. 
Even though she wasn’t working, she decided she’d go down to the bar and surprise him.   She normally cycled to work, but she decided to take the tram.  It took her a little longer than she’d thought.  As she stepped down from the tram at the stop just before The Lord Grey, she caught sight of Keith.  He had his back to her.  He was pressed up against another man, kissing him, his hands gripping the other bloke’s buttocks, his groin grinding against the other man’s. 
She turned quickly and walked away from the bar.  She didn’t want Keith to see her shame.  Her humiliation was complete.

She caught the tram home and let herself in as quietly as she could.  She did not want Luke to see her like this.  In the privacy of her room, she took the razor and cut deeply into her arms.  Stupid!  she said to herself, angry, as she did it.  Stupid!  You knew you could never be happy.  You knew that it would all be taken from you.  You knew that.  But still you hoped.  Fool!  Cretin!  Idiot!




Episodes 1 to 260 (without pictures, 10 episodes per chapter  

Monday, 12 August 2013

459


Jason fetched another bottle and the wine bottle opener.  He topped up their glasses from the open bottle, and took off his shoes, sitting on the other end of the sofa Keith was sitting on, and put his socked feet into Keith’s lap. 
“So,” he said.  “Esmé?”
“Yeah, well, I loiked her.  I found her sexy, actually, if ya mus’ knaow.” He looked at Jason half defiantly, half guiltily.  Jason opened his hands in a what-would-you gesture, his lifted eyebrows inviting Keith to keep going.
“Yeah, well, some gay blaokes have a fit if ya’re, ya knaow, bi.”
“Well, maybe they’re afraid you’ll leave them and go straight.”  Jason didn’t add that that was his own secret fear.  But even though he was worried, he had faith that he and Keith and Luigi and Cody, and Esmé, too, would be able to sort it out.
“Oh nao, Oi would never do that.  And that was the problem with Esmé.  I main, she knew I was gay …”
“ … somewhat gay …”

“… yeah.  I taold her roight at the beginning.  But … shay fell in love with mai.  And shay’s so vulnerable, Jace, so wounded.  And so fuckin’ noice.  We had a hard toime of it.  And Oi hurt her, aiven though Oi didn’t main to.”

Episodes 1 to 260 (without pictures, 10 episodes per chapter  

Saturday, 10 August 2013

458


The wine was delicious, and felt just right for a chilly autumn night.
Jason wondered what the two women had been talking about.  It was obvious they had become friends, close friends.  He envied that.  Women seemed to be able to do that, to drop the barriers to intimacy, so much easier than men.  It had taken weeks for him and Keith to become friends.  And maybe, if he hadn’t been grieving about Brent’s suicide, he himself might never have let his barriers down and so got close to Keith.  The sex helped.   But only if you already liked each other.  Well.  Maybe not.  He and Luigi were friends.  And lovers. 
They talked about neutral subjects and then both women rose and headed off to bed.
As she bade them goodnight, Eleanor said, with a slight quirk in her eyebrows, that there were more bottles of wine in the pantry in the kitchen and they were welcome to it if they wanted.
“Thank you!” replied Jason.  “Good night.  See you in the morning.”
“Good night Jason dear so nice to be here and now at last I will be able to sleep properly this jet lag business so barbarous bring back the Queen Mary I say.”

After this surprisingly short speech, Lucasta too headed off up the stairs to the bedroom.


Episodes 1 to 260 (without pictures, 10 episodes per chapter  

Previous episodes

I've started uploading previous episodes of MF to my new WordPress blog, which allows an unlimited number of "pages" and so can be both a blog and a website.  It's so easy to use I am thinking of diverting my website there too.  We'll see.

Meanwhile, I've started uploading previous episodes, twenty at a time.  The first few can be found here.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

457


Bolt was waiting for them, and so were the two old ladies.  They were in the drawing room and for the first time since Jason had come to Australia there was a fire lit in the fireplace.  It was chilly out, a still night with a slight southerly off the Antarctic seas.  The fire was mostly ash and embers but the room was warm.  Both women nursed glasses of wine, and there was an open bottle of red on the table.
“Oh, how nice you’re home early!” exclaimed Eleanor.
“How nice you’re still up!” answered Jason, smiling at her in pleasure.
“When you’re old you don’t sleep as much which is as if God wants you to make the best of your time on earth though I expect Canon Green would denounce that as untheological though I’ve always thought that we should interpret the Bible and all that stuff our own way because each of us sees the world differently but I’m sure he Canon Green I mean would be very gentle because he’s such a good man and far nicer than that bishop who’s some connexion of your mother so pedantic and full of himself and so unctuous and orotund like a badly made vase with moth-eaten hair.”
Eleanor placidly listened to this confused effusion and as soon as a small gap emerged in the conversation said,

“There are some glasses in that sideboard over there, Jason.  Do have a glass—you too Keith—if you would like one.” 

Episodes 1 to 260 (without pictures, 10 episodes per chapter  

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

456


At eleven, when Jason started making time-to-go noises, Keith said,
“Hang on a tick.  I’ll come with you.  It’s not very busy. I’ll just go and talk to Tom.”
Jason stayed at the bar while Keith went out the back to Tom.
Tom came out with Keith.
“Look after Keitho, Jace.  With this murderer around.”  From which Jason gathered that Keith had told Tom all about Luigi and Cody and what had happened.
“With my life,” he replied, holding Tom’s gaze, no hint of a smile.
Tom’s eyes glinted. 
“Good.”  He shook Jason’s hand, the first time he’d done so, and then he kissed Keith deeply on the mouth in front of the whole bar.  It should have looked odd, a 50-plus man passionately kissing someone half his age, but instead Jason was absurdly touched.  We blokes think a lot about sex, he thought, but it’s love that connects us.  And then, but we do have complicated love lives.
On the pavement outside, Keith said,
“You want to go to my place instead of yours? It’s closer.  And more private.”
“Well, yeah, normally, but now that grandam is here, I’d like to see her for breakfast.”
“What about me?  Us?  Won’t she … you knaow?”
Jason stopped and turned to look at him.  He brushed his finger across Keith’s lips.

“She’s happy for me,” he said.  “She really truly accepts me.  She and my sister were the only people who understood about Brent and me.  It’ll be OK.”


Episodes 1 to 260 (without pictures, 10 episodes per chapter 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

455


“Yeah.”
Jason waited for Keith to speak.
After what seemed like forever, Keith sighed and said, “Esmé.”
“You regret being … lovers?”
“Well, no.  Not at all.  Not in that way.  But I do regret hurting her.”
He was silent for a little while.  Just as he was about to speak, another crowd of men came up to the bar demanding drinks and food.  Keith leaned over towards Jason and whispered “I’ll tell you later,” squeezing Jason’s bum at the same time.  Jason got an instant erection.
“Hey, can I have one of those too?”  It was one of the crowd at the bar, a handsome blond man with a ripped t-shirt.
:Fuggeddit, sista,” said Keith, flipping his hands.  “Way beyond ya proice range, swaitie.”
“Yeah?  What does it cost?”
“Very, very expensive.  You havta be moi friend.”
“How can I do that?” asked the customer, grinning suggestively.
“You can start by shuttin’ the fuck up,” said Keith, compressing his lips and slitting his eyes.  “But we do naid somebody to work here.  Prove your ability by clainin’ the toilets.  The claining’ stuff’s in the cupboard.”  He pointed.
The other man just grinned again, raised his beer bottle in salute, and went away.
“Two things,” said Jason, when they had another moment of relative quietness.
“Yeah?”
“One.  You’re going to get beaten up one day.”
“Not if I have big macho you here, to put the frighteners on them.”
Jason’s eyes glinted.  “Aren’t you going to ask what the second thing is?”
Keith put his head on one side and stuck out his tongue.
“Two,” continued Jason firmly, “you’ve given me a hard-on.”
“Just as well wai’ll be able to solve that problem later, then, isn’t it?”
“You mean I must wait?” Jason’s tone was incredulous.

“Yeah.  My appointment book is full.  Lemme look.”  He flipped open an imaginary diary.  “Well fuck me sideways, it’s got some bloke Jason in here.  Who the fuck is he, I wonder.”  He winked.




Episodes 1 to 260 (without pictures, 10 episodes per chapter 

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