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Thursday, 26 June 2014

528



Later that night, as she lay in bed, with Keith next to her, asleep and snoring a little in a way which she found endearing and adorable instead of irritating, she thought about the two of them.    It seemed to her that friendship was a better guide to people and to your heart than love was. You could fall in love with totally the wrong person. But affection and friendship only worked with someone likable.  Not that she could help being in love with Keith.  It was simple.  She loved him.  And she didn’t want to share him.  But it seemed she had to, because he needed men in his life.  Well, not men in general, but Jason.  And Tom.  And Luigi.  She twitched her mouth ironically.  Even if she stayed with Keith, she thought she was as likely to have as happy a life as her mother, who had married a monster.

For the first time she felt a pang of sorrow for her mother.  Truly, she was and had been a coward, and she should have protected Esmé from her father.  But it must have been hell for her too.  Does mum miss me? she wondered.  Sometimes they’d had happy times, when she’d been little, when her father hadn’t been there.  Making cakes.  Playing dollies in the back yard under the fig-tree. Going to the zoo, just the two of them, and having ice-creams on a park bench. Feminine outings, which were always spoiled when they went out with her father, turning into edgy exercises in placation and pretence.  Always afraid to offend him, to cross him.  Afraid of the icy silences, the rage, the ever-present potential for violence.  And it struck her that her mother had also lived in fear.  Why had she never left him?  It couldn’t have been the money.  The answer, when it came to her, was grim:  her mother feared for her life. 

She turned over and snuggled up to Keith’s warm body.  Keith might be gay-shaded, but he was kind as well as strong.  She would never feel afraid of him.  However much their love didn’t fit into any prepackaged convenient cliché, it was still love, and it was vastly better than what her mother had.  And so much better than nothing.


She drifted into sleep, happy.



Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   

Monday, 23 June 2014

527



Jason smiled a little uncertainly at her, and asked, “Are you all right?”  His expression was kind and worried and, she would have sworn, entirely genuine and real.

She realised she had become introspective, and that perhaps her face had shown her thoughts.  “I was far away, there,” she replied.  “Sorry.”

“Oh well, that’s all right then.  I didn’t …. I don’t  … Keith is your friend too.”  His expression was sincere, real. 

“Friend?” she said wryly. 

“And more,” he said with a slow, warm grin which made his eyes shine with humour and liking.  All at once she was filled with affection for him.

She smiled back and for that moment it seemed as if there were just the two of them in the room.

My parents had a typical marriage, she thought, with a bitter burn in her heart.  Fat lot of use it did them.  Or me.  Maybe doing things differently would be better.  Maybe having Keith and Jason in her life was better than what her parents had.  She wondered whether her mother had loved her father when they first married, or whether it had just seemed the thing to do, to get married and ‘settled’.  He could be very charming.  Like so many psychopaths.



Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

526

That’s all very well, thought Esmé, but how can I trust you?  Both of you?  Either of you?



All right, Keith was bi.  And maybe if he hadn’t had to live on the streets he would never have found out about his gay side.  And maybe not.  Maybe he was always going to find out he was attracted to men.  She knew he loved her, well, for some meaning of ‘love’.  She was very mistrustful of the glittery shimmering artefact which everybody proclaimed as romantic love.  White wedding dresses and soppy romantic kissing and lurve. But at the same time, she needed it, desperately, because it somehow showed her that her own life was worth something, that she was worth something.  As Jason—he was lovely. He had a kind smile, and a beaut hunky muscular body, and his eyes were alive and interesting.  Does he love Keith? she thought.  Really and truly?  Will he just fuck off later when he’s sick of us all and leave us in the lurch?  Part of her rejoiced at this intriguing prospect, but then she squashed it mercilessly. Keith would be terribly hurt if Jason went away. Keith loved him. And though Jason loved Brent, he was obviously fond—very fond—of Keith. 

And yet, they were also friends.  Could you have friends if you were also having sex with them?  Keith had taught her how to make love without pain.  He was kind, like Jason was kind, and that was worth something.  Anyway, what did it matter?  She was in love with Keith and that was a simple fact and spending some time with him was far better than not having him in her life at all.  It was enough for now.  She must be glad and not greedy.  She was happier now than she’d been for years.


Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   

Monday, 16 June 2014

525

“We can’t stay too long,” Keith said in a low voice to Jason.  “I really should get back to work.  You know haow it gets busy after ten.”

“I’m glad you came,” said Jason. “It’s always good to see you.”

“And I got to mait Endeavour Lambano!  My hero.”

“Who?  Me or him?”

Keith just grinned.

“What’re are you doing after?” asked Jason, hopefully.

“I’ll bay with Esmé.”  He shrugged apologetically.

“It’s all right,” Jason reassured him.  When Keith looked doubtful, he smiled, and added, “I envy you.”

“Whoi?”  Jason was puzzled.

“You’re settled.  In a way.  You have someone you love.”

“And you don’t?”  Keith looked a little hurt.  You have me, he thought.

“Brent was … and I screwed up.  I … don’t know if I can love like that again.  But, Key, you … you’re my friend and … well …. you’re sexy and you’re a good man, and …. I hope you will always …  C’here!”  He pulled Keith into his arms, suspecting that words were pushing them apart and that their bodies spoke more truly of their real feelings.

He looked over Keith’s shoulder and saw that Esmé was watching, her face schooled to blankness.  He took Keith’s hand and crossed the short distance to her side.  He took one of her hands in his free hand and nodded to Keith to take the other.

“Circle of friends,” he said.  “One for all and all for one.  Always.”


Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   

Sunday, 15 June 2014

524



When she went through later to wee, Eleanor went into her study and took down the worn, very old red volume of Who’s Who.  She opened it at the index and ran her finger down the names. 

“So that’s it.  I thought so,” she said under her breath.  “Well, their secret is safe with me.  I suppose they want to be anonymous, but … would it matter to any of us?”

She went back into the sitting room and poured herself another glass of champagne. 


Well, well, Kitty Maloona, she thought serenely, as she sipped it.  How interesting!


Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   

Saturday, 14 June 2014

523

Lucasta sat down in one of the armchairs near the fire. 

My legs wont let me stand too long my knees you know so creaky and old I sometimes wonder at the Divinity letting us go through all this decay and falling off quite horrid sometimes really though I dont know whether Canon Green would approve of my sentiments dear man.

Esmé sat cross-legged on the floor on her right, Keith followed suit on her left.  Graeme and Eleanor took the sofa and Jason leant negligently against the mantelpiece. 

“Will you go for a while to live in France after you’ve graduated, my dear?” Lucasta’s glance at Esmé was direct.

“I’d love to.  It always seemed magical to me.  That’s why I studied French.”

“Oh my dear so different and so elegant but they treat cats badly poor things all these starving creatures slinking about with all their ribs showing I used to feel so sorry for them when I went there but such a beautiful country and somehow so much grander than England the countryside I mean though not Scotland which is very impressive and almost wild sometimes which I always loved when I used to go and visit Lillibet at …”  She stopped, and cast a look of mute apology to Jason.

“Lillibet?” asked Esmé, puzzled, feeling that she ought to know who all these people were, and feeling inadequate as she often did.

“Yes well the Queen you know whom I’ve known for years.”  There was no boastfulness about it; on the contrary, almost a shamed regret that she had to mention it.  And a lack of blether which was quite revealing.  Jason was staring at his grandmother, his brow creased.




Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   


Monday, 9 June 2014

522

Graeme wondered Esmé fitted in. Although Jason hadn’t mentioned it, it did rather look as if he were bisexual. In fact, there was a sexual charge between all three of them: Jason, Esmé and Keith. Jason and Keith were clearly lovers.  They had the body language. Comfortable in each other's space.   But Keith and Esmé were also obviously connected, too.  Graeme thought back to his own six years of marriage and wondered how these three would sort things out among themselves.  Some of the older people he mixed with were always saying that the young were stuffy and conservative, but these three seemed to be free spirits, unfazed by society’s strictures and diktats.

And the two old ladies!  What an amazing pair.  So placidly revolutionary.  What was it Dorothy Sayers said in one of her novels?    He grinned, remembering. 

“Why are you smiling?” asked Eleanor, unable to stop her own lips quirking up.

“Oh, I was thinking of what Dorothy Sayers said.  ‘You can tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable.’[1]  Something like that.  It’s from ‘Clouds of Witness” I think.”

“Oh, I think women often change over their life, you know.  Because when we are young we are constrained.  We must behave, don’t you know.  But as we get older, all those strictures and customs come to seem merely silly.  Sayers also said:

 ‘As I grow older and older,
 And totter toward the tomb,
 I find that I care less and less,
 Who goes to bed with whom.’”

Graeme laughed. 

Its easy to remember, Eleanor said, smiling too, because it rhymes.



Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   





[1]
 “Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.”

Thursday, 5 June 2014

521



Keith coloured.  He cast a quick look at Lucasta.  She smiled back benignly.

“Sao ya had a nanny, did ya?” Keith dug at Jason, annoyed at being embarrassed in front of Lucasta whom he rather admired.

“Yeah.  And I learnt French from her.  Dialect.  When I go and stay with her they think I’m a local.”

“Oi never had the chance to learn French,” said Keith mutinously.

“I’m teaching him,” said Esmé, linking her arm through his.

“You learnt something better,” said Jason, “you learnt to survive and yet keep your compassion and love of mankind.”  Ignoring Keith’s discomfited glower, he went on, talking to the others, “You should see him when we get trouble in the bar.  It’s never—hardly ever—bad trouble, but somebody gets a bit overactive sometimes and then Keith gets them back in line.  Amazing.  Just with words.  And a little sarcasm.  Well, sometimes quite a lot of sarcasm.  He hardly ever has to bring out the cricket bat.”

“Oi’ll bring out the cricket bat on you, sunshoin!” said Keith, embarrassed but smiling, too.
 
“Promises, promises.”  Jason leered at him.

“You must ignore these reprobates, Graeme,” said Esmé.  “They’re just showing off!”


Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   

Monday, 2 June 2014

520

Aubeterre

Jason handed Eleanor and Graeme a glass of champagne and gave Keith a glass of red from the bottle he’d brought.

“Cheers!  Thank you for coming, Graeme.  It’s good to see you again.”

“You too, Jason.  And I’m glad to meet so many fans.  Of both my authorships!”

“We’re very pleased to have you here.  Did you have to come far?” asked Eleanor.

“Oh, no, I’m practically a neighbour.  Just 3 or 4 tram stops along.”

“Melbourne so civilised with trams and pavement cafés I approve so European,” said Lucasta, sipping her champagne.

“When I first came here it struck me as a southern European city with the plane trees and the boulevards and pavement cafés and everywhere Greeks and Italians and Lebanese.  I love it.”  Jason glanced at his grandmother, wondering if she got the subtext.

“And,” she said,” putting her hand on his arm, “you’ve been happy here.”

Oh.  Yes, she understood.

“Better than I would have been anywhere else.  Except perhaps Aubeterre.”

“Where?”  asked Esmé.

“Aubeterre.”  In the south of France.  South-ish.  Not too far from Bordeaux.  It where my former nanny lives.  She’s French.  But, although they’re very accepting there I don’t know that I’d’ve made friends as quickly as I have here.  And yeah, I think about Brent a lot and I miss him like stink but having you two helps me better than anything.”  On impulse he leaned over and kissed Esmé’s cheek and then Keith’s.  Esmé smelled nice of a scent he didn’t recognise and Keith smelled of Keith.  He started to get a fatty but was surprised when he realised that he wasn’t sure whether it was because of Keith or Esmé.  Or both.



Episodes 1 to 500 (without pictures, 20 episodes per chapter)   

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