Any characters portrayed in this story are fictional and not representative of anyone living or dead.

 

Anyone wishing to contact me can do so at john.thestoryteller@gmail.com All emails will be answered.

 

Other stories on Nifty by John Teller/The Storyteller can be found here.

 

All rights reserved. All parts of these documents are © Copyright 2010 John T. S. Teller, and may not be reproduced in any form without the author’s consent. Nifty.org have permission to reproduce it on their website. 

 

The Magic Cap.

By John T. S. Teller.

Part four.

 

Caesar:

Who is it in the press that calls on me?

I hear a tongue shriller than all the music

Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turned to hear.

 

Soothsayer:

Beware the ides of March

 

Caesar:

What man is that?

 

Brutus:

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

 

Fast forward to Thursday, the 15th of March in 1956, and, indeed, the soothsayer is right.

Six days before my eighteenth birthday, and Dada dies of septicaemia. In my arms he is as he draws his last breath. The old warrior is gone, and now we are two – Alex and me – in Dada’s sacrosanct bedroom, and Judy is howling a spine-chilling noise that curdles my blood. I want to cry, but I can’t. I’m numb as I stroke Dada’s face, and marvel that the wrinkles have faded. He looks so at peace, that I cannot believe other than his soul has flown to a better world: a world without pain and poverty.

----------

Not a single tear escapes my eyes in the next six days until the 21st of March, the occasion of my eighteenth birthday. Alex had wanted to have Dada buried on a different date, but I insisted.

Alex and I stand at the end of the open grave; the vicar at the other end, and a host of mourners behind he and us. A few yards away to our right, on the barked orders of the Regimental Sergeant Major, six members of The Parachute Regiment raise their rifles, and fire off a single volley of shots. Then, as a cold March wind blows across the graveyard, another six members of The Regiment, with ribbons and medals decorating their uniforms, lower the coffin slowly into the ground. A lone bugler plays the last post, and from the swivel coupling at his hip, the Regimental Flag Bearer lowers the Union Flag. The vicar says the committal prayer.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you have given us a sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life; in your keeping are all those who have departed in Christ. We here commit the body of our dear brother, Alexander, to the ground: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, and who shall change our mortal body that it might be like his glorious body. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

After we have thrown some soil onto the coffin, Alex has his strong miner’s arm around my waist, and I have mine around his, and my head is leaning on his shoulder as we look down on the wooden casket that contains the remains of our beloved Dada. Now, we really are just the two of us. But then Mr Bourne comes to me, and hugs me from the other side. And then Stuart comes to me and wraps his arms around my waist, and buries his head in my chest, and hugs me fit to take my breath, and he sobs uncontrollably until Mr Bourne puts his hands firmly on his shoulders and leads him away. Handshakes. Lots of them. I don’t see the faces. ‘He was a good man’ - dozens of times. To the Workingmen’s Club. Fruit bread and sherry. I look for Mr Bourne and Stuart. They’re not amongst the solemn, nor the military, who are talking about old time’s sake. Finally, Alex and I, respectfully, take our leave, and leave it to them.  It’s over.

----------

“Who’s the boy?”

I feed Judy a scrap from my plate; and then another. “Just a boy from school.”

“What’s his name?”

There’s venom in my eyes as I look at Alex. “I don’t remember. What’s this… the Spanish Inquisition?”

Alex gets up from the table, picks up his half empty plate, and takes hold of mine. “Are you going to eat any more?”

I shake my head. He takes the plate, and Judy follows him into the kitchen. I hear the remaining food on the plates being scraped into Judy’s bowl, and then her wolfing it down. Alex comes back into the room, and as he passes me to sit down again, he ruffles my hair. As I lean on the table and stare at the familiar grain of the scrubbed pine, I can almost feel his eyes on me.

“I’m going to work in the morning, Kiddo. You need to go back to school. I want you to go back to school tomorrow. Will you?”

I lift my head, and see the tears running down Alex’s cheeks. I know he’s hurting as bad as I am, and I know that my nasty reaction to his enquiry has made matters worse. “I’m sorry, Alex.”

His strong hand comes across the table, and closes over my arm. “It’s ok. I understand. All I wanted to say was that he’s very fond of you. Don’t hurt him, too.”

“Stuart Begbie.”

Alex smiles. “He’s nice. Ask him to tea sometime. I’m going to feed Dada’s pigeons, and lock them up for the night. That bloody cat from next-door-but-one has been prowling around again. Judy will get her teeth into it one day, and kill the bloody thing. The sooner, the better.”

Alex has gone, and I’m thinking. So, he knows. So does Mr Bourne by the looks of it. Why else would just the two of them have been at the funeral? My thoughts are disturbed by a knock on the front door. I ignore it. It’s probably a nosey neighbour after something of Dada’s.

A keepsake. Something to remind me of him. He was a lovely man you know.

I know he was, so you can fuck off!

Again, the knock on the door, but this time, they use the brass knocker, the one Dada said reminded him of the elephants in Burma; the one where the elephant’s trunk is the knocker. Rap-rap-rap. Again I ignore it, even though I don’t think it’s a nosey neighbour now. Alex comes back into the room just as the knocker raps again. He goes through the parlour to the front door. Judy is barking now, and a hell of a draught is blowing into the house while Alex is speaking to someone. The coal fire loves the draught, and a large lump of Alex’s coal allowance bursts into flame.  Alex comes back into the room, and closes the middle door. Judy is still barking.

“Be quiet, Judy! Get to your basket!” Alex’s commanding voice is enough for Judy, and she retires to her basket by the side of Dada’s chair. She’s still growling though. I feel a hand settle on my shoulder.

“Hello Michael. How are you?”

I turn. Mr Bourne is standing by my chair. He smiles, and squeezes my shoulder. I nod at him, and then turn away.

“Sit down, Mr Bourne. Can I make you a cup of tea?”

“That would be lovely, Alex. Thank you.”

Alex goes into the kitchen, and I hear him put the kettle on. Mr Bourne settles into the chair next to me: Dada’s table chair. He says nothing. I can’t look at him, and I study the pine grain again. Judy has stopped growling now, and ventured out of her basket to sniff at Mr Bourne. I can see her by my left leg, and I also see Mr Bourne’s right hand come down to ruffle the fur on her neck. She licks his fingers. The kettle whistles, and then stops. I hear the sound of boiling water cascading over tea-leaves in a teapot, and the clink of an unfamiliar lid, and the clinking of unfamiliar china. Alex comes into the room, and places the tray on the table. Now I look up. He’s used the best china – Shelley: Mimosa Pattern. The full works: cups and saucers and sugar and cream, and the teapot. Dada would have had a fit!

Alex puts his hand on my shoulder, and squeezes it. “Right. I’m going to bed now. I’m on days, Mr Bourne. I have to be up at five. Sorry I can’t stop and chat with you. See if you can get Kiddo to go to school tomorrow. Goodnight. Goodnight Kiddo.”

I look up. “Goodnight Alex.”

**********

The bedroom is cold. I tidy Kiddo’s sheets and blankets, arrange his pillows, and fold his pyjamas, and put them inside the bed with the hot water bottle that I put in earlier. Not only will it warm them for him, it will remove the damp. This room, unlike Dada’s, has always been damp. Dada said it was because the seals on the sash windows were knackered. He was probably right. Some mornings, I would get up, and there would be a puddle of water on the window ledge inside the window. When it was freezing outside, the puddle would be frozen inside. Sometimes, it’s like sleeping inside a fridge. We’ve had some fun in this room… me and Kiddo; when we were kids… that is, and especially at Christmas when we’d hang stockings on the end of our beds and wait for Santa to come. We used long woollen ones, and Dada would pack them with oranges and apples and monkey nuts and toffees, and, one Christmas, a wooden car for each of us that he’d made himself while we were at school. Christmas was the only time he drank at home: two milk stouts on Christmas Eve. Kiddo never heard him come into the room when he was small and still believed in Santa Claus. I did; a couple of times. That’s when I stopped believing in Santa. Dada heard me giggling one night, and told me to ‘shush’ so as not to wake Kiddo. And every Christmas morning, we were allowed into Dada’s bedroom, and into his bed to show him what Santa had brought us. They were wonderful times as we snuggled up to him, and he pretended surprise at our gifts.

But now he’s gone, and Kiddo is taking it badly. No matter what I try to do for him, he isn’t responding. It’s knocked me for six, but I have to be strong. The funeral has taken every penny I’ve saved, and even that wasn’t enough. I had to go begging, cap in hand, to The British Legion, for them to make up the money to pay the funeral director. I can start to pay them back by doing some overtime, and Joe Brachus has asked me to join his crutting team, because he hasn’t replaced Sammy Wainwright, who got killed a few weeks ago when the roof caved in. It’s more dangerous, making the roads underground, than working on the coal-face, but the money is better. But there is another way. If I can sort Kiddo, that is. The manager has asked me if I want to become a deputy: a Fireman in charge of a district underground. I’ll need to go to night school for that. Two years that will take me, but when I’m done, the money will be far better than being a collier. But what do I do about Kiddo, who takes his exams in June to go to university? If he passes, how can I afford to pay his way through university? I have to think of a way. Perhaps I can sell our third share of the house to Uncle Sam and Uncle Tom to pay for it, and then we can move into a cheaper, rented place. I’ll have to talk about all this to Kiddo, but I can’t do anything yet, because he’s out of it. I hope Mr Bourne can sort him. I know Kiddo thinks the world of him. If anybody can, it will be Mr Bourne.

Stuart Begbie. He’s a lovely young man. In fact, he’s too beautiful to be a boy. A bit young, but he obviously loves my kid brother. But does Kiddo love him? He was really nasty when I asked who the boy was. I think he’s hiding something. I didn’t have Kiddo down as a homo, but anything is possible. There are some blokes who are both sexes. Furber in number one pit is supposed to be shagging his missus, as well as that Polish bloke who just does the noon shift - Nazwinski. Even if Kiddo is, it won’t bother me. I’m tired. I need to get some sleep. What was it Dada always used to say? It will all come out in the wash. I hope so.

**********

“I think the tea is brewed. Shall I pour, Michael? (I look at Mr Bourne, and nod.) Sugar? (I put one finger up.) Milk? (I nod again.) Good lad; drink it up now, and then we can talk. We need to talk, you and I. We’ve got a lot to talk about.”

I sip at the tea, and stare at the glow of the coals in the cast-iron fireplace, and Judy lying on the hand-made hearthrug that Mrs Hamnett gave to Dada when the other one caught fire when a lump of coal fell onto it, and Alex and I were throwing cups of tea on it to put it out. When the rug was smouldering, Dada started laughing, and told us to throw it out into the backyard, and then told me to make another pot of tea. Even though both doors were open, and the sash window, the room was still full of smoke, making our eyes run when all of us were drinking the tea, and laughing, and making fun of Dada’s wooden leg catching fire.

The memory is catching up with me now, and my head is down, and I want bang it on the table to stop the memory. I feel the hand, rather than see it. Mr Bourne has placed his own hand over mine, which is resting on the table.

“Michael, life goes on. Your father was a good man, and you are, too, and so is your brother, Alex. You’re a good family, and if I’ve anything to do with it, you’re going to continue your education.”

I turn the hand that’s under Mr Bourne’s, and grasp his firmly. “Why did you bring Stuart?”

“He wanted to go to the funeral. He was worried about you. I… err… had to sort of take him in hand.”

“Take him in hand?”

Mr Bourne gives me a sad grimace. “Actually, I… err… gave him an hour’s after-school detention for running in the corridors. The detention was in my classroom. Just him and me.”

“Running in the corridors?”

Another sad grimace. “Not really. I caught him crying at the side of the rugby field. He was on his own, and I knew something was the matter. Of course, I already knew about your father’s death, so I assumed that was his problem. So I gave him an hour’s detention just so we could be alone, and I could speak to him.”

“Why should you assume that Dada’s death was his problem?”

Mr Bourne releases my hand, picks up his cup of tea, and takes a sip. I can see he’s thinking. And then he sits back in Dada’s table chair, and looks me in the eyes. “Michael, I’ve been a schoolteacher for twenty seven years. Do you know how many pupils have passed through my hands in that time? More than a thousand, at the very least. And that’s not counting the thousands who weren’t in my class, and during that time, there’s been one special pupil who I’ve always wished was my son. My wife is a schoolteacher. Did you know that?”

I shake my head. “No Sir, I didn’t.”

“Oh yes. We’re very happily married, but, unfortunately, we have no children. We’ve tried, but it just hasn’t happened. We both love children. It’s why we’re schoolteachers.”

I see Mr Bourne’s face sort of twist when he said that, but, selfishly, although I sympathise with Mr Bourne’s sad dilemma, Stuart is the main thing on my mind. “Stuart?”

Mr Bourne smiles. “Ah, Stuart. Yes, Stuart. I was rambling. Sorry. But my rambles do have a part to play in all this. Bear with me. It will all come out in the wash.”

It will all come out in the wash. That was one of Dada’s favourite quips when something needed righting, or outing. Perhaps it’s a generation thing. Although he’s got a posh voice, Mr Bourne is beginning to sound like my Dada. I look at him, and wait for the next episode of his ‘ramblings’.

“As I was saying: so many pupils. All sorts, because all sorts make a world. I once taught a boy who turned out to be a murderer. I wasn’t experienced at the time I taught him, but now, looking back, and with the experience I have, I can see it in him. But, he’s of no concern to me now; you are. I can spot the sexuality of boys without looking. Well, almost. I knew you were a homosexual before you entered the fourth form.” He puts his cup down, and his hand grips mine before he continues, probably to stop me running away, because, suddenly, I’m ashamed. “No doubt that’s shocked you, Michael, but I’m not a bigot, and a bullet doesn’t ask a person what sexuality he is before it takes his life. Tens of thousands of good, honest, decent homosexuals have laid down their lives for this country… and for other countries. We are what we are. You are what you are. It didn’t stop you beating everyone in sight to win The County Championship. You’re as good as anyone.” Now, the look in his face intensifies. “And I would still love to have you as my son, and I still want to help you with your education.”

My main question still hasn’t been answered. “And Stuart?”

“Stuart is like you. Well, not quite like you. It took me a while to understand you, but Stuart is one of those boys who, to the experienced eye, stands out like a sore thumb. He’s only been at the school a short time, but it took me all of a week to understand him. He hides it well from the other boys, despite him being one of the most beautiful boys I’ve ever taught. And he’s an especially nice boy, too, which pleases me that he’s chosen you.” Mr Bourne chuckles. “He has good taste, and even if you wanted to, I don’t think you’re going to shake him off very easily. As a matter of fact, if I could have chosen a partner for you, I would have chosen Stuart. He’s highly intelligent, has a lovely way about him, and I’ve enjoyed watching him keeping tabs on you, and I wondered just how long it would be before he caught you.” Mr Bourne chuckles again. “Maybe one day you’ll tell me how he did it. Did you know that two of the Masters at our school are homosexual?”

I’m amazed, and it shows on my face. I shake my head.

“Oh yes. I won’t name them, but I keep a close eye on them. Boys together are one thing, but Masters and pupils are definitely a non-starter in my book, which brings me back to you and Stuart: boys together.” He smiles. “We need to teach him not to whistle.”

Despite my sadness, his comment makes me smile. “I’ve told him he should train sheepdogs.”

Mr Bourne gives out a belly chuckle. “Good advice, that is, Michael. I wish I’d thought of it. Anyway, Stuart and I had a good chat while he was on detention. We didn’t go into anything too personal, that’s your business, but, by the time we’d finished chatting, we understood each other perfectly, and I now have his trust. All I need to do now is to gain yours. Knowing the way the world works, I think both you and Stuart might need a confidante if you’re to remain undetected in the sea of impurity that is the ‘normal’ world.

“How did you manage to get Stuart to the funeral?”

 Mr Bourne looks pleased with himself. “That was easy. I told a few lies. I telephoned his parents and said that I needed a pupil representative from the school to accompany me to the funeral, and I’d decided, because Stuart was an exemplary pupil, and because he was the right age to represent all factions of the boys, if they would be so kind and dress him appropriately, I would use him to express the pupils’ condolences. I, of course, was the Masters’ representative. So, instead of him catching the school bus, I picked him up from his home, and that’s that.  Did I do right?”

For an answer, I take Mr Bourne’s hand, and squeeze it.

“Good. Then all we need to do now is get you back at school. Would you like a few more days off, or do you want to come tomorrow? The only advice I can give you, is that the sooner you’re back, the sooner Stuart will settle. He’s worried to death about you, because he knows how much you loved your father.”

I think about what Mr Bourne has said. “Not tomorrow. Monday the 26th. I’ll come back then.” I look at my mentor. “You can do one more thing for me. Thank Stuart for coming to the funeral for me. It meant a lot to me. I think I might have gone mad had I not seen him… and you. Thank you, Mr Bourne. Maybe one day I can repay you for all you’ve done. You’re a special man. You always have been while I’ve been at the school. I wouldn’t have managed without you. Now Dada’s gone, would you mind if I think of you as my second Dada?”

Mr Bourne gets up, and stands behind me. I feel his lips touch my hair. “I’d be honoured, Michael. I really must be going now. Don’t get up, I’ll see myself out. I’ll see you on Monday, with your chin up, and we’ll face the world together. You and me and Alex and Stuart, that is. We need to make your Dada even more proud of you.”

I go to bed, and lie, staring up at the ceiling, thinking about everything. Especially, I’m thinking about Mr Bourne’s words: I knew you were a homosexual before you entered the fourth form. How the hell does he know something that even I don’t know? Yes, I’ve loved a couple of boys, and now I love Stuart, but I’ve never thought of myself as a proper homo. And when Mr Bourne said it, I didn’t protest. Why? Am I one? Mr Bourne is the cleverest and most insightful man I know. And he’s wise. And now it’s beginning to dawn on me that he’s right. But maybe he’s just part right. I’ve always wanked off thinking about women. No I haven’t! I wanted to fuck Craig Thomas. Yes, I wanted to fuck him. Many a time, when I was in love with him, and I wanked, I did it thinking that I had my cock up his bum. Yes I did!  But what about Stuart? Do I want to fuck him? Oh, my god! Yes I do! When he was in the swimming baths, and I could see his body, his bum was a turn on for me. Don’t lie to yourself, Johnson! You thought about your cock up him, didn’t you? Yes I did. Oh, my God! If Stuart finds out that I want to do that, he’ll be disgusted.

----------

Saturday 24th. Alex has gone in to do an extra shift. ‘We need the money,’ he says. ‘Iron your clothes for Monday,’ he says. That was last night before he turned in early, and left me and Judy listening to the wireless. And I’m ironing my clothes when Judy does her usual; goes mad as soon as the post drops through the door. I have to hurry to stop her chewing the letters up, and I scold her, and shoo her out of the parlour. She settles down in front of the fire that is backed up with slack to save coal. I take pity on her, and poke it, and a few flickering flames are her reward. Without getting up, she wriggles her way forward, and rests her head on the brass fender, and stares up at me. I smile at her. She was a special Christmas present when I was a small child. Twelve-years-old she is, and I love my mutt.

Cards. Lots of them.  One is from The Queen. I place them all by the biscuit barrel, and leave the one from The Queen at the front of them. Alex will open them. He’s the head of the house now Dada’s gone. One is addressed to me, and I’m intrigued. I open it, and sit at the small dining table.

My dearest Michael.

Please forgive me for writing, but I wanted to tell you how much your loss has hurt me. Mr Bourne has told me that he’s been to see you, and he’s explained everything to me. He says you’re coming back to school on Monday, but I can’t wait that long. I’m going to cycle to your house on Sunday morning to see you. Please don’t be mad at me, but I really need to see you away from the school again. I’ll be with you about 9.30 to 10. I’ll set off early. Please don’t be angry with me.

I love you with all my heart.

Stuart. XXX

I’m shocked, but I’m elated. I’m also worried. Alex will be home on Sunday morning. I look around the room, and wonder how Stuart will react to our house: our hovel. He’ll never have been in place like this in his life before. The shock of it might turn him away from me, and I feel sick to the pit of my stomach. And I haven’t had a proper bath all week.  And what will I do when he gets here? I can’t introduce him as my lover. But, Alex has already seen him, and said we should invite him for tea sometime. When he said it, I’d no intention of ever inviting him here, but now, I have no option other than face reality. Stuart is coming, and there’s no way I can stop him. So, I have to get busy. I’ll clean up and get the place as good as I can. And then I’ll have a body bath in the zinc tub. I hope he likes dogs.

Late afternoon, and Alex gets back home. He’s had a few beers in the Miner’s Welfare Club, and is merry-drunk. I don’t scold him, and neither would Dada. Alex works damned hard, and deserves some time-out from reality. Instead, I sit him at the table, and bring him a large bowl of thick, lamb-breast-and-vegetable-broth that you can stand a spoon up in, and half a newly baked loaf that I’ve got from the bakers three doors up.

His Valentino black eyes look up at me, and I can see that they’re moist. I pat his head, and smile at him, and he tucks in with gusto, stopping occasionally to tease Judy with a tasty morsel. Apart from Dada not being here, it’s almost normal in the Johnson hovel. When he’s eaten, and given his almost empty bowl to Judy to clean, I give him the cards.

The first one he opens is from The Queen. “Bloody Hell, Kiddo, even the bloody Queen wants to get in on the act. Dada would have thrown a party.”

“He’d have thrown it in the bin, more like. You know his opinion of Royalty. What’s it say?”

Alex squints through his half-drunken eyes. “That broth was lovely.”

Despite how I’m feeling, I have to giggle at his out-of-context remark. “Don’t be daft, you drunken sod. Tell me what it says.”

“It says…Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, sends her sincere condolences to the family of the late Alexander Johnson. VC.”

“Is that it? No cheque?”

“Nope. It’s signed: E.R.”

I take the card, and look at it. “So, Dada loses a leg and some fingers, and half his bloody chest, and wins the Victoria Cross, and all we get is a letter of condolence. Well, they can stick their bloody cards up their arse. I’ll bet it had to go through channels for her to even know what Dada did. What was it Dada used to say: ‘Cannon Fodder’. He was right. Nobody gave a shit for him once he’d been discharged.”

Alex turns his chair, and points an angry finger at me. “You’re wrong, Kiddo! That guard of honour by the Parachute Regiment was the honour. That’s all Dada would have wanted, to be honoured by his peers… and you and me. We did him proud, Kiddo. We did him proud.”

And that’s when I break down and cry for the first time since Dada died. I sink to my knees, and bury my head in Alex’s lap, and bawl like a baby. The hurt that is so deeply embedded in me, finds its way out, and my brother soaks it all up.

“That’s it, Kiddo. Let it all out. Let it all out, Kiddo. It needs to come out. You’ve been bottling it up too long. Time to let go. Just you and me now, and we’ll always have Dada with us.  We’re Dada, and we’ll show the bloody world what us Johnson’s are made of. Nothing will stop us.”

----------

It’s just turned ten, and I’m listening to the 10 o’ clock news. Alex has slept his beers off, and is reading the evening sports paper. I haven’t told him about Stuart coming yet. I have to do it.

“Alex, Stuart Begbie is coming here in the morning. He’s coming on his bike.”

Alex raises his head, and looks at me. “Is he now? Where does he live?”

“Brooklands.”

“Brooklands! That’s a fair way away. I hope he’s wrapped up well. It’s give out rain for the morning, and its bloody cold. You’d better have the fire stoked up. The poor kid will be frozen.” Alex turns his face back to his paper. After a while, he speaks again. “What time is he coming?”

“About half nine.”

“Hmmm. He’s eager! Do you want me to leave you two alone for a while?”

“Why should I want you to do that?”

Again, Alex is quiet for a while. Then he folds his paper, and looks at me. He smiles. “We might as well get this out of the road, Kiddo. You love him, and he loves you. I’m not daft. So, can we stash the bullshit, and be honest with each other. You’re my Bro, and I love you no matter what you are. So, let’s just get on with it, eh? Make the fire up for the kid, and make sure he doesn’t get pneumonia. I’ve got to go down the Pigeon Club at eleven to sort out Dada’s pigeons. Frank Belcher wants to buy them, lock, stock and barrel. And the pigeon cote. He’s offered good money, and I think we should take it. What do you think?”

“Why don’t you go and sleep in Dada’s bedroom now?”

Alex looks at me as if I’m crazy. “Do you want me to?”

“Yes.”

“Why, so you can sleep with Stuart?”

“Don’t be bloody daft! Of course not! He won’t be staying here. He’s just visiting. No, it’s a good room, and I reckon Judy would enjoy having you sleeping in there.”

Alex snorts. “Hah! So, I’ve got to sleep in Dada’s bed so the bloody dog can be comfortable?!”

That makes me laugh. “No, you daft sod. I wouldn’t have to put up with your farting if you slept in Dada’s bed.”

Alex laughs. “Ok. I’ll move in tonight. You can have your own space to do as you will. It’s about time you had some space. As a matter of fact, I’ll have a pee now, and then me and Judy can get off to bed.” He goes out down the back yard with Judy, so he can have a pee, and Judy can have one, too. When he returns, he goes to the door at the bottom of the stairs, and giggles. “No lie-in, in the morning, now Lover Boy is coming.”

I glare at him. “Just sod off, Alex!”

I can hear him still giggling as he goes up the stairs, and it makes me smile. Before today, I thought there were just Stuart and me who knew our secret. Now, there are four of us, and it’s easier somehow, and I’m looking forward to my ‘Lover Boy’ arriving. But what will he think of the ‘Johnson Hovel’? It’s worlds apart from the way he lives; and I’m worlds away from what he is. Maybe tomorrow he’ll realise it, and that will be the end of us. Oh, my God! I can’t bear the thought, and burst into tears again.

To be continued…

Other stories on Nifty by John Teller/The Storyteller can be found here.