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5,320 I'm The Poster Child For Success

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About MrM

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    The Wise

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    Hillcrest, San Diego, CA
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    Writing, reading, singing, dancing, joking around.....stuff. Etc. =p

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  1. Wind, rain, lightning, sun, moon, stars, cool, warm, fresh, salty, herbaceous, dry, cold, desolate, drear . . . unendurably glorious bright, blue, green, flowers, trees . . . . . . Hidden. Myra, the last of the Fae upon the earth, beheld all with only the eyes that she had with which to see. Her vision parted the misting veil of drear Welsh countryside that disguised the ancient place that the Dreamer Of Our Lives had bid her find. "Lookest ye Northwards, from whence the Angel Song doest sometimes calleth in light. In the highest promontories of the eroded world, in an Old Place, there willeth thee find the Jewel Of The Crown!" Raziel, a most glorious angel greatly fond of riddles, teased poor Myra. "But only if you could speak plainly, perhaps we could have been done in finding this place long before now, most enigmatic one!" Myra groused. "To what end? Wherest be there mirth and joy if not in puzzles?" Raziel asked rhetorically and then fluttered his four vast wings about Myra playfully. "As you say, Power. It was given you to guide me and so you are given to guide in your own manner, but behold! Even your obfuscations cannot muddy these waters! Nor can the old spells of subversion that attempt to hide this holiest place away from the world for all time! I see with clarity the resplendence that is the Jewel lying before me! It aches inside of me to see its beauty so untarnished even beyond the counting of millennia!" Myra gasped as her gossamer wings brought her ever closer to this vision of Faedom thought long lost. A vision that she thought she had long forgotten or, perhaps, merely dreamed of while expressed as water upon a leaf in her old forest far away in the South of the world. "The Jewel Of The Crown, lovely Myra: for this Jewel was madeth for the returning kingly guardian of this land! The Lake maketh needs of its Lady and within her ladylikeness is thus fashioned, ever shimmeringeth and precious, this vestige of things old and long unremembered." Raziel soared majestically from Myra's side and glided with perfect grace to land weightlessly upon the highest peak of Cadair Idris, or the Chair of Idris, as the locals call it. Idris was a giant that, supposedly, frequented the crater in which the Jewel is housed. It is also variably called the Seat of King Arthur. Suddenly, just as the mists of Cadair Idris parted for Myra to reveal the hidden valley of delights around the Jewel, so did Raziel's words unwind into something that made more sense to the Fae. "The Lady of the Lake, The Jewel Of The Crown, The Throne of King Arthur, the Giant Of Wales . . . this is the resting place of Excalibur!" Myra fluttered down next to the majestic seraph. "To thinkist such that this one couldst not be taughteth anymore hence, so ancient wise be she, our dearest Faery Queen!" Raziel poked. The epithet rankled Myra whose displeasure was suddenly met with a crack of thunder over their heads and a dousing of ice cold rain! "Holy and good you may be, Guardian of the Mysteries, but dare you not address me again as the Faery Queen! I should call you Morningstar, such would be a like insult!" Myra puffed. Raziel merely chuckled jovially at what he considered good humour at the expense of Myra's education in humility. "Ah, to be so comparedest thus to the one time Light Bearer wouldst be of no insult unto me, mine ladylike lake dweller. Beforeth his consignment thus unto the pits underest this world, he that darest be made the most beautiful and most powerful of we all, he stilleth be our greatest of the Angelic Host! Power hast he still in the Darkness and this whilst insideth the saddest confines of a dragon most black confined. To havest been such beauty when crusht thus upon the altar of pride be tragedy indeed! But, knowest thee this, last Fae . . . he that was most angelic, he that still beist so. He likest be much to me most angelic still. As do I serveth the same Mighty One as thee, so doest Lucifer Morningstar, The Black Dragon: the Shaitan, the Adversary. His that be aboutest his work that he figurest to be of his own deed when, in truth, Lucifer's work be no morest than another service unto the One. Therest be no principality unto this in that either of we shalt govern that be out of our mandate of servitude to the One Above All. We be all servants thus." Raziel spoke his truth and then he spoke Myra's. She listened because Raziel spoke from his profound knowledge and infinite ageless wisdom. He then pressed: "But, thou Myra! Thou art the TRUE Fae Queen! Thouist did never put thee down thy burden of service to this world that was createdest by He which created me and also created Lucifer. Thou never did breaketh thy faith! Thou never did alloweth the Black Dragon of Lucifer ever to persuade thee to turnest against thy world and thus to others that live within it likewise! Morgana felleth and was casteth out, but thee were to be saved and enshrined in the deepest emerald He couldest shelter thee thus within! Thou art the Last! Thou art the true Fae Queen and only she that holdeth that crown can takest she up the Sword and giveth it unto the hands of she who wouldst be Queen of Men. Together then, thouist shall put down the usurper Morgana who hast lostesth her way and hast becometh so benighted that she shalt never again findeth her way back again into the Light she wast thus consecrated to serveth!" Raziel then gestured to the sapphire pool of the Jewel waters. "Very well, Angel of Riddles. I go as bidden." Myra said with grim determination. But, Raziel suddenly blocked her path. "Goest thee not in distress or fear, Enchanted One. Goest thee forth in joy knowing thusly that thou art not alone in thy burdensome task. They that are to come cometh unto thee even now! It is by this knowledge that I setteth thee to task with some urgency. Fore with, thou must be in place and thou must be of mind in place and opened unto the consciousness of the Jewel suchest that thou mayest take up Excaliber and delivereth it thusly to the Queen Of Men!" Raziel insisted and then gave way so that Myra could do this task. She attempted to clear her mind of all negatives feeling. What Raziel was saying was that any doubt and any fear that she would have might close the veil between her and the Jewel and she would fail in her mission by lack of faith. The Dreamer did will this. His will be done. It was all that mattered for Myra in the end, Raziel's arguments accepted or set aside. She proceeded forth in a stronger form, taking up a form tall, strong, imperious, commanding, queenly. Myra always marveled at how merely shifting her form could, somehow, reform her mind and feelings upon things. It was a power in empathy that was natural to all Fae. Become what you must become to do what must be done. Become the will to be strong. Become the light to shine in the darkness. Become the mist to veil the secret treasures. But, remain true to who and what you are! The tragedy of her lost kin was that they had allowed Morgana to kill that empathy within them so they became what all things that cease to feel become . . . dead unto themselves. Unfortunately for the world entrusted to them, when the soul of the Fae died, so then did the world around them. Perhaps, by some manner known only to the Maker Of The Dream, Myra could pick up the burden of focus that is Excalibur and return to her lost family the sight that Morgana had taken from them. A prayer to this effect Myra sang in rainbows upon the mists as she, arrayed in a sparkling crystal gown made of raindrops, submerged into the shining azure of the Jewel and became the new Lady Of The Lake! "I am glad for these . . . what are they called?" My'n asked, blinking his giant bright blue eyes in utter bewilderment. "I believe they are called jeans and a hoodie, My'n." Joraan answered before either of the larger human people had a chance. "Indeed, I would, perhaps, have preferred one of my old shrendwool robes, but I suppose that would have looked passing strange amongst these humans." My'n whispered looking up at the taller beings, astounded that such great huge people of such a kaleidoscope of varieties could be so short-lived. It seemed like a waste to My'n! "Yes, since Shrendish Unicorn wool tends towards iridescence, I don't think that would keep the low profile we are after here, my Brother." Joraan gave My'n a warm one-armed hug around his shoulder and they lightly touched the sides of their covered heads together about where their pointy ears would be if they were visible through the hoodies. Moira felt it was just as well that those ears stayed hidden. She already played over several scenarios in her head as contingencies to the eventuality that the two leprechauns would, somehow, manage to expose themselves to the general public! As per the usual, Sean managed to come up with a far more simple and elegant solution to anything Moira was thinking. "Well, that'd be as simple as a tea cake, aye? Cosplayers!" Sean said with a gleaming smile. "My pardon? What ever are 'Cosplayers'?" My'n had asked rather timidly. Sean had remarked to himself how strangely different this black-haired, thinnish leprechaun was to the more vivacious and robust Joraan. My'n was, had Sean dared to think it, slightly effeminate for being a male of the legendary forest folk! Leprechauns have ofttimes been seen as silly little gnome-like people, usually bearded with a soft cap and with just the bite of Irish sunshine (drunkenness) on their bulbous noses and cheeks. Certainly, this conception of the mythical people wasn't as . . . beautiful as Joraan was, but all of them, including Joraan, was quite 'manly'. "Och! That'd be a fine idea, Sean! Here I am, a supposed doctor of anthropology and, yet, I forget current youth culture in favour of some ancient text talking to how boys in Ancient Greece played Hoola hoops!" Moira had praised Sean delightedly who had been likewise delighted by Moira's delight in him! In the present, as they continued walking from the car park to the vast castle-like complex to which they were going, Joraan's pondering upon 'Hoolahoops' got the better of him. Joraan asked: "Hoolahoops? What is a Hoolahoop and why would anyone want to concern themselves with something that sounds so completely silly?" Joraan asked a bit more gruffly than the fourteen-year-old boy he was supposedly posing as. Moira and Sean looked down at Joraan with an incredulous look. "Is that all ye've been thinkin' about all the way over here?" Sean figured he would never get an understanding of Joraan's thought processes! "Oh, never you mind Joraan! You'll be blowin' our cover carrying on like that with such questions!" Moira chided, a bit alarmed that Joraan would be so tactless as they approached Terminal A, a place that would be teeming with prying ears and eyes! Fortunately, there had been no other humans around to take note of this odd commentary. Then Moira had to redress herself and her paranoia. It, actually, was not too unusual for teenagers to ask absurd questions out of the blue that seemed entirely non-sequitur to the moment. Meanwhile, My'n seemed to have let his own question from before be swallowed up. He had meekly withdrawn himself as if he did not wish to annoy the humans with it. Joraan sensed this, however, and was not in any way shy with questioning these two children of men. To him, they better fit the description of 'children' than he did, and, as such, he felt they owed the two Sídhe answers before they continued. This way they could both be more involved with their plans and they could all be 'on the same page', as it were. "Alright. I shan't mind my question being passed over, but My'n had a valid question that you two seemed to have ignored entirely! What is a 'cosplayer' and should we be concerned?" Joraan made sure his question came out more petulant than commanding since he quite understood that he was trying to play the part of a young teenager, a part for which he was rather practiced at. "A cosplayer means 'costume player' in abbreviation. It'll be when folks like to be dressin' up in costumes and cavortin' about like bloody fools at conventions or whatnot." Sean instructed the Sídhe with a fair bit of derision. "A-ha! Sort of like Samhain!" M'yn perked up! He didn't really expect the humans to know what he was talking about since Samhain had been an ancient festival where ancient Humans, Sídhe, and Fae celebrated the Time of the Golden Leaves together. The humans would dress like either of the two elder races and honoured them by pantomiming some of the old stories and histories they had been taught. It was marvellous fun for all concerned! However, somewhere, deep down in the darkness where Tyrex still lived inside of My'n, the Fae Lord felt like retching in nausea from the memory of those sickening mockeries he and his mother had been subjected to as the humans 'celebrated' them. "So, this then would be a good fib to put one over on the sheep if our hoodies should slip and expose our ears?" Joraan asked in a whisper. "Aye! A perfect cover-story if ever there was one!" Sean whispered back with more than a lot of pride in himself. Moira circled back to M'yn's question feeling the two rude boys were completely ignoring their new gentle travelling companion. She was starting to pick up on Joraan's concern for his companion and his inclusion into their little circle of collusion. "Ah yes! Very much like the old Samhain. Tis' be known by most now as Hallowe'en or All Hallows Eve. I've always found it somewhat perplexing that such an old Celtic harvest festival should catch on so brightly as a modern holiday globally, religious conversions aside." Moira pondered as they approached their airline terminal gate. "So, it is still honoured even now?" My'n looked genuinely delighted at the idea and the look of pure joy on his face, with the most beautiful smile Moira had ever seen, played on her emotions mightily! My'n was rapidly becoming a fascinating contradiction to Joraan. My'n seems so shy and reserved, like a small forest animal that you had to tease down from his tree with a nut. This softness was a nice difference from Joraan's mercurial nature which always had a person watching their step when communicating with him. My'n was all cool softness and peace, like a day in the woods, as opposed to Joraan's beguiling yet disconcerting conflagrations of emotion that could be as warm and inviting as a living room hearth fire or as explosive as a Hawaiian volcano! "Honoured, I suppose, is one way to be puttin' it, but I'd fancy it has more to do with candy and parties for the kids and more . . . nocturnal types of entertainment for the adults." Sean added his tuppence. "All Hallows Eve. It used to mean somethin', but not much anymore, I fear. Anyway, cosplay or Halloween or what you may, it is as good a cover as any for us, M'yn. We shan't be bothered after that excuse. I've seen these ComiCon things in Dublin and even attended a few. It is rather amazing how much of the old lore men still cling to as their best dreams." Joraan mused thoughtfully. Both Sean and Moira looked at Joraan in astonishment! M'yn merely looked hopelessly confused. But, before any more tiresome questions could be put to Joraan, the call to their 'gate' was reiterated and everyone found they had to jog to get into a cue to board . . . something. Joraan, of course, knew of these vehicles and had even seen many different versions of these flying beasties cross the sky countless times. In all of his long years of coexisting with the things, Joraan had never felt the need to actually use one since he never left his beloved Erie. His last venture beyond Ireland had been aboard a great sail-less ship and that, again, was to travel to an area close to where they were going now. This occurred many years before Joraan had seen his first flying machine. Wales and Ireland had once been part of the same world. In the primordial past, they had actually been one place but had somehow separated long before even Avalon had come to grow on Ireland's landmass. In the framework of magical energies, however, it was as if the two places were still fused together as one land. The Ley Lines that connected Wales to Ireland were like massive electrical conduits bridging the two ancient spheres of power. Joraan felt comfortable venturing there as it felt, as if, he had never left Ireland at all! However, beyond this connected sphere of magic, Joraan did not care to venture. He felt very disconcerted when having to range away from either Ireland or Wales. He was connected to them with a psychic connection that was, actually, physical in its strength! He'd weaken and seek to go dormant if he ventured too far away from the lands to which he was bound. It was the peculiar nature of the Sídhe that they were so inextricably linked to the lands from which they were moulded. Where a human only had to contend with environmental and cultural differences when they travelled, Sídhe had this magical connection to their land that made it nearly impossible for them to leave it for an extended length of time! It was believed that the Fae may have been similarly locked to their realms, though, as Joraan could remember, the Fae had a way of moving from one part of the world to another riding the Ley Lines that connected everything magically. Joraan had always wondered if that might not be possible for him as well, but he never saw much use in testing the theory. Up until now, since, as was said before, Joraan had never had much need to travel beyond Ireland's sacred shores. Hence, his ignorance of flying on these human contraptions called 'aeroplanes'. "Hullo! ~giggle~" Joraan heard behind him, ripping him from his thoughts. The voice was female, young, but not quite a child's voice. Despite himself, Joraan could not help but receive telepathically the many impressions that hit his mind and his other senses from this obviously adolescent accoster. In the few seconds it took for him to consider turning around, Joraan knew this little open book for all that she was and for all of her designs upon him! Some of the impressions were sufficient to make Joraan blush red like a tomato! For one unacquainted physically with the matters of sex, she certainly knew them in theory! Also, her female scent was high which betrayed her intentions. It had very little effect on Joraan, but he could imagine that if Joraan had actually been an adolescent boy that this subtle tease of pheromones would have had the desired effect upon him. Turning, Joraan could see how such a boy's vision would have rather enhanced the effect! The young lass was quite lovely . . . for a human. The effect should have been mutual, if Joraan had been, in fact, an adolescent boy and not the millennia-year old 'Leprechaun' that he was. From his psychic impressions of the girl, he'd clearly seen what was behind her interests, or rather that Joraan's behind was her interest. But, upon seeing his face as he turned to look at her, the girl's somewhat prurient interests in Joraan's body changed to something much deeper and stronger! The force of the feeling was enough to cause Joraan to flinch slightly, lean away, and divert his eyes from hers. She immediately took it as the kind of reaction that was typical of a shy boy when a pretty girl suddenly takes an interest in him. A complete misreading of Joraan entirely, but one that could be used to his advantage in keeping his cover, as it were. "Oh, no need to be so shy! My name is Nathalie! I'm taking a trip to Wales as I just finished with Ireland! What an exciting holiday! Are you about on holiday also?" Her English blue eyes veritably twinkled as she effortlessly attempted to ease Joraan into conversation with her. Obviously, she was used to this sort of thing as she knew how to tease a shy young man out of the safety of his shell. Joraan pretended to play along, but in such a way that might discourage her further attentions. "Uh, no. Not actually." Joraan feigned a sense of seeming disinterest in the conversation hoping it would be enough to discourage the young lady. It had the opposite effect, however, as Joraan's answer was far too mysterious for her to pass up. It was an obvious open door for her to step into so that she could nose around in his business. It was like catnip to the feline in her! "Oh? Is it a trip for school? Are you doing an assignment abroad as I am?" She persisted and sidled up beside Joraan quite closely to devote her full attention to his answer and to insinuate herself further into his personal space. 'Ach! By the swords of Sa'alaaman the Jinn!' Joraan groused to himself but found rescue in the person of his newly discovered brother from another world. When the girl pressed herself into their midst, this seemed to trigger M'yn, for some reason. He first gave Nathalie an almost evil look and then his tone of voice came out antagonistically to the point of rudeness! It was a spark of such pure venomousness that it shocked Joraan on some visceral level! "Who are you? Why are you bothering my brother? Can't you mind your own business? It has been a long day for all of us! Where're your manners, lass? The very idea!" M'yn spat viciously! Nathalie did recoil rightly as if she had actually been stung by M'yn's venomous barb! Joraan sensed a wave of something else behind all the sputter, though. He sensed a touch of . . . jealousy? "Mike! Now who's at a loss for manners? The lass was just breechin' a conversation!" Sean piped in, having given Joraan's blustering brother-in-law a much more 'human' sounding name other than M'yn. "Oh, I am terribly sorry! I meant no offence! Honestly, I can be such a Nosy Nelly! Please, forget this ever happened!" Rather than rise up in understandable wrath at 'Mike', Nathalie, instead, retracted and recovered herself with a kind of self-deprecating dignity that suddenly beguiled Joraan! She was a kind-hearted soul and, what is more, she was all alone! She could not have been much more than fourteen herself. It raised no questions, because it was not unusual, in this day and age, for a young person of Nathalie's age to travel abroad unchaperoned. It must have made for lonely travel. Nathalie rather psychically 'reeked' of loneliness. This understandably pulled at Joraan. Though this girl could never live enough lifetimes to fill the vast depths of Joraan's own loneliness, he knew that even just a taste of such isolation could be enough to pour a lifetime's worth of pain into one moment. Loneliness is a queer thing. A little taste of it or an endless eternity of it, both carried the same amount of pain that was a fresh ache moment to moment heedless of time. Joraan could not countenance loneliness in such a soul so undeserving of it. He knew it was against his better judgement, but he allowed Nathalie to join him on their flight. Something in her aspect and something in the echoing voiceless tellings that often prompted Joraan into such decisions prompted him to trust in her importance. Perhaps, he actually did like this human girl in that way an adolescent boy can like an adolescent girl. Perhaps this was the cause of M'yn's dislike for the girl! In any case, she readily accepted being Joraan's riding companion on the plane. Joraan managed to use a mental charm on the stewardess to allow the three of them to sit together despite preselected seating arrangements. By a small toot on the miniaturised Flute of Vim about his neck, Joraan caused its note to conveniently rearrange any previous occupants' designs for their pre-ordained seating. No one's feathers were ruffled, save for one person's. To M'yn's continued unaccountable chagrin, Nathalie sat sandwiched between him and Joraan. If she ever wondered why we two 'boys' never took off our hoods or why we seemed so 'strange' in the ways we would sit and talk, Nathalie never made mention of it. Joraan made another split decision on their fight. He felt he was being urged to invite her along for the rest of the trip. That included exposing her to the Sídhe and the Fae and to whatever destiny Moira might have in this. Nathalie was somehow important and the why would have to be in the telling of time! "Nathalie? Since we are all going to Wales, would you care to come along with us on our little adventure?" Joraan asked her nonchalantly. "Are you serious?" Nathalie asked nearly incapable of containing a squeal. "Indeed, are you serious?" My'n looked over at Joraan with blue daggers in his eyes. "Well, of course, I am! I'd not have asked if I wasn't. I have a feeling that Nathalie would find our expedition very educational!" Joraan wagged his head sassily in answer to My'n. "But . . . she's a stranger! What would, erm . . . 'Mother and Father' say? We can't just pick up some girl and add her to our travels! What if she's missed?" My'n's interrogations did not go unnoticed as the 'what if she's missed' comment drew the attention of an older gentleman in glasses who stared over them at the three 'teenagers' with concern. "Missed? I shan't be missed! It's been my mission to explore as much as possible! It's part of my thesis! I didn't mention that I am an Oxford graduate student, did I?" Nathalie retorted much to the older man's surprise. "I'm not the only one that looks young for my age!" Nathalie said this amazing truth with a frankness that disarmed both Sídhe! For the rest of the short flight, all was quiet between the three traveling companions. The ringing unanswered question remained stuck inside the minds of both M'yn and Joraan: how old was this Nathalie? More to the point, who was this Nathalie to begin with?
  3. I agree. Some guys are so pretty that one can't stand it.
  4. In Chandler's Hands: Racketball https://gayauthors.org/story/mrm/in-chandlers-hands/3
  5. MrM


    So, creepy or not, there I was again, keeping an eye on things. Honestly, how did I get myself into this detail? I never signed up for the Army. I didn’t sign up as a volunteer to supervise High School gym. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised somebody hasn’t made a comment about the same car being parked in the same place at the same time every afternoon so close to the gym. But then, maybe that’s not too weird. Moms and dogs always seem to hang out at the High School at the same time to pick up the kids that aren’t driving themselves yet. But, then again, I’m hardly a mom and this car is hardly a ‘Soccermobile’. It concerns me how easily a weirdo in a nice car can just park across the street from a High School and not get questioned, actually! Who else is out here looking for young meat? I hope not too many. I’m definitely not looking for ‘young meat’. I have nice well-aged piece of meat at home to eat. The $60 a plate kind! Danny is seasoned like a Christmas rump roast! OMG, just thinking of him is getting me hard! I shouldn’t really think of him in public. I, apparently, make looking horny easy! I never could keep the sexual flush out of my cheeks. My Irish blood rises too high in those ‘high cheekbones’ of mine, as Greg calls them. I can’t hide it when I’m infatuated! Luckily for me, that’s never been much of a problem for me once I got into the Gay community and started to cruise the nightlife in Boystown. The Flush and the Twinkle got me Danny, after all. He told me that once my ‘Irish Eyes’ came smiling in his direction he knew there was no other guy in the club except me! I’m sighing! So romantical! I hope I can keep him interested! I really love Danny, you know? I’d probably die for him if there ever came a time when he’d need it! Not too many Gay relationships end up with those kinds of feelings, you know. I know a lot of dudes that just hook-up and don’t go any further with it. They get on the apps and get together and do each other like appliances and then leave never to be heard from again! What kind of shit is that, I ask you? Are they really that afraid of finding true love in this world or have they just been so burned that they can’t let themselves believe in love anymore? Will Danny leave me with those kinds of wounds eventually? Dear God, I hope not! I don’t know if I could . . . stand that. Maybe that’s why I go down to the High School to watch the kids for Jamie. They are so new to this. They are so innocent to a lot of the crap that can go on! Despite the bullies and the stupid teachers and admins of these places, love and hope are still alive in kids this age, generally speaking! The Gay ones especially are looking for something more than a quick bang under the bleachers. They haven’t become jaded to this life yet. They still believe in something more! I’m not too far away in age from these guys and yet, being exposed to what I’ve been exposed to all of the way ‘Downtown,’ I have no more illusions. I know that, for the most part, guys are users down there. They use drugs, alcohol, each other, and so on to fill some emptiness inside that was created when they lost their belief in the kind of love young High Schoolers still believe in. Who would think that a red-headed pretty boy like me would have such thoughts, huh? I could fuck myself silly if I wanted to if I wanted to play the hook-up game. But, that’s not where it’s at for me! Being with Danny is where it’s at! Anyone that finds someone that really loves them in this world is blessed! I, seriously, swear to God on that! Catholicism may have left me cold, but I believe in God and I believe He’d want us to find someone to love in this world to share it with them just like He shares His world with us! That’s joy, my friends! That’s real joy! Ok, whatever . . . So, I watched for Brandon, Jimmy, and the ‘Fresh-Crew’ and I didn’t find them at all today. That worried me! I thought, maybe, they’d have started ditching class! I wouldn’t have blamed them at all for it, but, that fucking School would find a way of penalizing them far out of proportion to their ‘crime’ for having done so. So, I was a little concerned for them, but knew my only way of finding out what happened was to talk to Jamie later. If he didn’t know then I’d know they were playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the School and their merciless rules against being truant. I stuck around until the final bell called and then picked up Jamie after his practice as had become the standard MO for my afternoons lately. Jamie was goofy as ever, of course, going on and on about this tall blonde drink of water that had started vying for his blue-eyed attention. It actually wasn’t until we got back home that he started to shut-up enough about her so that I could get a word in edge-wise. Actually, the way he went on about her was cute and it helped put aside a fear I’ve always had for Jamie that he’d, somehow, follow in my footsteps into the Gay Life. I have no qualms about it, mind you, but . . . it’s a hard row to hoe if you know about it like I do now. Jamie will have a much easier time in this life if he is straight and can hook a girlfriend and such. At least I think it will be. I’ve never been into girls so I wouldn’t know, really, despite their always trying to get my pants off! Anyway, I got to ask Jamie about Brandon and his little band of merry chickens, and the answer I got was typically blunt and fairly uninformative except for the basic fact of it. “Oh, yeah, uh . . . Brandon and the other kids got transferred to an earlier class.” Jamie answered dully. “Uh-huh! Why was that, I wonder?” I fished. “Oh, uh, I dunno! Maybe, like, they were causing too much of a disruption for the team before practice, or whatever.” Jamie told me absent-mindedly but in a way that told me he knew much more than he was telling me! “So, like, the coaches thought they were causing trouble?” That didn’t surprise me! Coach Bradshaw can go suck my dick! Really, he can! He can do it any day he wants to! I’ll even host! Such dreamy eyes! A-hem . . . “I don’t really think so. It might have been after the naked thing that happened that one day!” Jamie looked out the window pretending that he hadn’t said what he’d just said! “Um, the naked thing? Like, what kind of ‘naked’ thing are we talkin’ about here, Squirt? Like, you guys better not have been doing anything sexually harassing! You can get into big trouble, Dude!” God, I sounded like Pop there for a minute, or worse . . . Mom! “Geeze! No way, Chan! Don’t be stoopid, Dude! That’s not me and you should know that!” Jamie’s cross attention snapped back over to me and he shoved me a bit and got all red in the face! He blushes and flushes as badly as I do! Gotta love them Irish genes! “Okay, okay! I’m sorry, ok? But, Dude, like . . . naked thing?” I pushed. It was creeping me out, to be honest. It was making me a bit concerned for Marie since these guys come over to the house so much and Mom and Pop are always working. Does she get messed with? Do naked things happen with her here? Do I need to move back in to be sure my family is safe? “Like in the shower when we have to shower and stuff! You have to get naked for that otherwise you’ll get your underwears all wet!” Jamie looked at me like I was crazy. Does he even know what the stuff that comes out of his mouth even sounds like? “Right. So, why is it worth mentioning if you have to do it? What other naked stuff goes on in there?” Maybe I was pushing too hard because Jamie was clearly getting uncomfortable with this line of questioning. I was grilling him a bit, but . . . hey I’ve been around the barn a few times! Naked stuff that has nothing to do with cleaning the sweat and grime off of your nads is always a sensitive deal and for someone to abuse that special kind of vulnerability, even just as a joke, can mess a person up. Especially someone who’s been seriously messed with in other ways like this Jimmy kid. If this was happening to the little guy, could it also have been happening with Brandon too? “Uh, why are you so interested in that stuff? I know you like, um, guys and stuff. Does this have something to do with that? Like, when Jason always wants to tell what he saw in the girls locker room when they invite him in there?” Jamie asked suspiciously. That question got me a bit miffed! There’s always that stigma Gay guys have when they ask about things that go on with younger guys. ‘Why do you want to know what happens in a High School gym? Are you a pedo or something?’ It is a terrible insult mostly because it is more than an insult. It’s a threat! Being called a pedo is grounds for investigations. Child molestation complaints have always been the best weapon the anti-LGBT movement has had against Gay men! It is actionable! Police and Agencies can use a complaint like that to investigate someone. Even just an investigation about being a child molester can ruin a Gay man’s life really easily! Their reputation can be destroyed and people will treat them as guilty even though they aren’t! I learned this the hard way . . . when someone who hated my boyfriend Danny so much that they tried to use my youth against him. I was plenty legal, but I had to prove it to detectives once and word like that gets around fast in Boystown! Fortunately, Danny is well respected in the Chicago Gay community so the fact he was investigated because of me didn’t ruin his reputation and didn’t cause his company and clients to run screaming for the hills! If he had been anywhere else, he easily could have been ruined financially. Worse, he may have pushed me away! I love him so much . . . even just the thought of that likelihood kills me! But, Jamie wouldn’t know anything about that world and about how even making an implication of being a pedo can ruin someone’s life. He was merely reacting defensively, so I cooled my red-head’s boiling blood - like a good adult - and backed off from the questions. I just asked the basic question I wanted an answer to without details: “No, nothing like that and I hope you never think that of me. It would really hurt if you did, you know? Anyways, I just wanted to know if Jimmy or Brandon or whoever were really hurt or really badly humiliated by the ‘naked stuff’. Did any of those guys do anything that made you feel uncomfortable about what was going on?” I asked gently, or gently as I could being that a part of me still wanted to smack Jamie around a bit! But . . . “I’m sorry, Chan. I didn’t mean anything by what I just said. I know you don’t do stuff like have sex with kids, or whatever. I’m very sorry it came out that way!” Jamie looked so sad that I thought he thought I was capable of hurting someone in that way. He understands a lot more than I give him credit for sometimes. “It’s cool, Squirt. I’m not offended. You have a good heart, Jamie. I know you know the difference between a ‘good joke’ and something that’s straight up over-the-line. I know because you got me to show up early that one day when the two Meatheads were being particularly obnoxious to the little Jimmy guy.” I reminded Jamie who kind of smirked knowingly at me. “You, kind of, figured that out, huh?” Jamie asked sheepishly. “Yes. Yes I did and that’s why you’ll let me know if those fuck-heads get up to anything with the younger guys that isn’t right. Were the younger ones molested by your team?” I put it right out there. “I don’t think in a Gay way, if that’s what you mean. They took turns ‘drying’ Jimmy off. It’s called ‘Racketball’. You pass a wet guy back and forth from one towel to another until they are dry. We do it all the time after practice. They decided to do it to Jimmy in a ‘make him a part of the tribe’ deal. It’s like an initiation ritual of sorts. It was actually Chris’s idea because he felt bad about the way the others had been treating Jimmy. Unfortunately, I guess it backfired, because Jimmy got really mad and started to push back. He pushed Karl who, I admit, had been playing the game a little ‘roughly’ for a small guy like Jimmy. Karl pushed back, like, real hard and sent Jimmy flying! He hit a locker and, um . . . got knocked out. That’s when the fight started . . .” Jamie said, staring at the floor. “A fight? What fight?” At once, I was relieved that an actual rape hadn’t been committed. Then again, I was pretty sickened by what Karl had done. I needed to know one thing before the ‘Fight’ deal. “Ok, before we talk about the fight, was Jimmy hurt badly? Did somebody get him out of there, at least? I mean knocked out is not good, Jamie!” What a vile bastard that Karl is! “Yeah, the guy Joe Tanner, one of the other Freshies, got him out and over to the Coach with my help. Then, he marched right back into the locker room and roundhouse kicked Karl right in the face! We were all like ‘WTF’! I ran back in to see what was going down and that’s when that little freshie fucking flipped Jason and Macro when they tried to charge him! It was like some Batman shit man! The dude knows kung-fu!” Jamie had to be telling the truth. He was far too excited to be doing otherwise. I’ll be honest, I was shocked too! I had to figure the rest of the team put that kid in the hospital after that. “So, is like, that kid in, like, the hospital now or whatever?” I had to ask. “Who? Jimmy? No, he was ok last I saw him. Coach revived him with some smelling salts. He had a headache so Coach sent him home.” Jamie answered, but the wrong question. “No, I mean the Batkid! I’d have been sure the Crew would have worked him over near to death for that one!” I made things more specific, forgetting that I was talking to Jamie for a second. “Oh, no! Coach took him to the Principle’s office personally! After hearing the ruckus and getting Jimmy revived, he went and saw the whole thing! The Joe guy was so defensive that he almost hit Coach! Well, I guess that was what did it because the Coach first talked Joe down and then told him that Joe’d better come with him and ‘Not to get any ideas. I’m a Marine!” Jamie said. Yeah, big old man weighs twice a Freshie’s size and he has to threaten him with the ‘Marine’ bit? I call bullshit. “Where was Brandon in all this?” I guess I just had to know. Brandon seems like such a sweet kid, I don’t know what a mess this would have made out of his day. “He was absent that day and only had one class with us after that before he got transferred with Jimmy, Joe and the other kid that kept ditching the class anyway.” Jamie shrugged. Well, that was a relief anyway. I told myself to back off on the wondering why he was absent part. There is only so much I can care about a person that I hardly know, even if he does seem like the little prince in distress, or whatever. “So, you think that might have been why they were transferred?” I figured that was pretty obvious, but wanted Jamie’s take. That would be important to see if there’d be any future trouble for either Brandon, Jimmy, or, especially, this Joe dude. I really wouldn’t put it past Karl and Jason not to try and run that guy down in the street given half a chance. “We’re all pretty sure of that. I’d call a round-house kick to the teeth pretty ‘disruptive’, heh.” Jamie made a lame attempt to laugh which I indulged with a short chuckle. It really isn’t funny, but Jamie, per usual, was teflon through all of this mess and even did Jimmy a solid getting him out of there. I hope the kid is ok. A bump to the head that knocks someone out isn’t good and why didn’t Coach get Jimmy to the nurse immediately instead of ‘sending him home’? Did Jimmy have to walk home in that condition? It would be interesting to know. Maybe, it could be investigated for the kind of neglect and child-endangerment it could have been? I’d love to see one or two of those coaches fired and possibly brought up on charges! ‘Racketball’ . . . what kind of stupid juvenile crap is that? Oh God! There goes Pop coming out of my mouth again! I’m getting old way faster than I ever thought possible! “Ok, Squirt. Thanks for letting me know what’s up.” I told Jamie. “Um, Chan?” Jamie asked a bit cautiously. “What?” I was worried that there was more he wasn’t telling me. “Why are you so interested in Brandon for? I mean, you hardly know him and, you know, I don’t want to insult you again or whatever, but Brandon’s only like 14!” Jamie’s concern was legitimate so I wasn’t offended. It, I guess, would take some explaining. But, I think Jamie had his answer already, so I countered: “I don’t know? Why are you so interested in Brandon? He’s only like 14, you know! You’ll be 17 this year, Mop Head. You’ll be an adult next year!” We both laughed at the weirdness of our weird unexplainable feelings. But, Jamie seemed to have a good answer that I can use to explain this to myself since, honestly, I can’t really explain my feelings for this young kid either. “He needs friends. He’s too alone. I don’t like that. Brandon is too cool to be all alone like he is. He needs me!” Jamie’s heartfelt and astute answer disarmed me in it’s simplicity and strength of character! “I guess, that’s why I am interested in him too. You’re right, Jamie. He does need friends. Good ones . . . like me and you, little bro!” As Pop’s car pulled up to the house, Jamie gave me a big hug and a ‘manly’ clap on the shoulder. We then greeted Pop, ordered Pizza, and forgot about the whole mess for a while. A few days later, since I had a little extra time and no coffee house work to do, I drove by the school early in a half-hearted attempt to see if I could catch Brandon in his new gym class. As luck would have it, I did find him! He’d been moved up to the 2 PM class. He was having fun too! He was playing racketball with this little blur of an emo kid who seemed to be the perfect match for Brandon’s long reach! Emo-Kid was fast as a snakebite! Haw . . . I kill myself sometimes! When ‘Snakebites’ stopped blurring around I caught a glimpse of him! CUTE! Typical dyed black bias-cut hair (in the face) that didn’t quite cover his electric blue eyes! A thin, but not anorexically thin, build that looked like it was trying to fill out in all the right places, etc. I hope Brandon is Gay for real because Mr. Snakebites would make a fine high school first-time sweetheart for any boy, given half a chance! They were laughing and giggling together like they’d known each other for years! Cool! Perhaps they had? I can’t be sure. Maybe Jamie and I won’t have to worry so much about Brandon! He seems to be finding friends just fine when taken out of the wolf-den and put into a normal environment with normal kids! He doesn’t seem to be half as distressed a prince as I was afraid he was! That’s the kind of racketball I like! The kind that makes friends and not injuries. Go get ‘im, Snakebites!
  6. Marching through time, love's souvenirs remain and remind us that where many things change over time, the important things stay the same. 💖
  7. Great mental fencing Mr Comsie!
  8. Souvenir Fini


  9. Perhaps some day the sun will shine again, And I shall see that still the skies are blue, And feel once more I do not live in vain, Although bereft of You. Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay, And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet, Though You have passed away. Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright, And crimson roses once again be fair, And autumn harvest fields a rich delight, Although You are not there. Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain To see the passing of the dying year, And listen to Christmas songs again, Although You cannot hear. But though kind Time may many joys renew, There is one greatest joy I shall not know Again, because my heart for loss of You Was broken, long ago. Perhaps Vera Brittain ~~~ Months passed as months do as did the days in those months, the hours in those days, the minutes in those hours . . . the seconds, etc. All were there. Each bomb-tick on the clock face was, for me, yet another eternity. I sat by his side, day after day when I could take leave from legal duties that I had arranged to finish out my service to the Crown in Paris. I had something to do with the assembling of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the apocalypse for a while. But, my mind only numbly went through the motions as meetings were held, summits made, and documents, documents, documents fell like rain. I had no true care for what I was doing or why. I did my work in a kind of monotone of numbness that allowed me to exist through one more day until I could return to Adrien's side by night. I only slept when it was in a chair by his bedside. His doctors and nurses tried to prompt me to return to my quarters for sleep. They even attempted to make orders for me to do so, but it was in vain as my clout as a Duke and then a lately entailed member of the House of Lords prohibited my superiors from pushing my ire too hard. As long as I did not create outright mutiny in the ranks, my superiors left me to my devices. They all knew my soul was gone. They did not know who I had lost, but they knew that it had to have been someone who kept my life for me. This must have been so because they observed that there was no life left in me anymore! I was only somewhat more attuned to existence than Adrien who was so well divorced from it that he could neither walk nor talk, much less write endless letters-in-brief to be compiled into the impossibly long Treaty documentation. They all recognised the '2000 yard stare' of those that the war had injured in their souls. For many men, that stare never again saw the world as it is, but only as it was that moment when what they saw was, at last, too much. I suppose my eyes were only given to see when I was with Adrien reading him the newspaper. My eyes skimmed the French text and I recited in my increasingly brilliant French accent. Many of the nurses mistook me for French because I'd become so adept at speaking it with perfect Parisian intonation and relaxed slurs. Visitors and regulars could have almost believed that I was a normal living man since I only came alive by that bedside, in that ward, next to my Adrien. At the last, one precious evening when it had gone late (the nurses had long since given up trying to shoo me from my perch next to Adrien at Last Call), I had managed to fall asleep with my head upon the bed next to Adrien's hand. Oddly, that was the only place I could find any sleep at all, there, bent over awkwardly with my head resting on his white hospital linen sheets. I was awakened to a touch, but I was not startled from sleep because the nurses had, many times before, tried to discourage my sleeping in that manner as such posture offends the back and neck. But, this time there were no nurses about except for the Night Nurse at her desk far upfront next to the only open door to the ward. The hand that touched my hair stroked it with a familiar firm lightness. The perfect pressure to soothe, but not to startle or distress. It was a touch only a lover could give. (In the French: "My silly little one! Why sleep so uncomfortably? You should be in your own bed!") His voice was hoarse from long disuse, but it was the most precious music I would ever hear again in my life! "A-ADRIEN!" I called out much too loudly for the quiet confines of the large wardroom. With my instant regret, the other patients in the room made frightened noises, grumblings, or began to fidget in their sleeping nightmares. To her credit, the Night Nurse did not shush me like some half-witted librarian, but rather came rushing to our side knowing that there had been some change in Adrien's condition. It was the only thing to account for my becoming so uncharacteristically incontinent in my utterances. ("What has happened, eh? Has he taken a turn?") she asked with a matronly professional calm. But, her questions answered themselves when she looked at Adrien and saw him trying to sit himself up in bed. Alas, the poor man had been in repose for so long that his muscle tone was virtually nonexistent, meaning that even the mere repositioning of himself in bed was quite beyond him without help. Thusly, we both helped to settle him in a more vertical disposition for which we garnered many an exhausted 'merci beaucoups'. Upon turning his reading lamp on above his bed, the drawn face of my beloved was all too apparent. He looked corpselike still, but his eyes were their ever sparkling golden amber. Tears came to them as he weakly reached for me to come into his arms which I did without any thought to the propriety or 'masculine' protocol. He shook with emotion and long-held tears began to wrack out of him. ("Oh my little one! I thought I should never see you again! The war! This eternal war! It forever separated me from you! Oh, my beloved!") Though overjoyed by his response, there was a corner of my paranoia that feared he'd give away too much of the nature of our relationship in his newfound lucidity and, almost as an instant punishment for such thoughts, I suffered a blow unlike any I'd ever felt before or since! ("Brandon! My little boy! Papa has missed you, my little one! My brave boy! My young man!"). I continued to hold my precious heart to me as he continued to babble on, but I knew then, of course, that . . . Adrien was not speaking to me directly but to a memory of someone else he found even more precious than I was, I supposed. Adrien was still not with us in this world. Though awake and interactive, he could not yet interact with the reality before him. Soon his emotional fit receded and Adrien slumped back into a stupor that then faded into that unending kind of sleep which had become his natural state of affairs. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. To be so close and yet so very far from me: this was my Adrien. I broke my vigil for the night after that possibly out of an innate sense of self-preservation. I knew that if I stayed there by that bedside another minute I'd end up in the same hell-pit into which Adrien had fallen. He'd manage to drag me down with him into that place and, though, I loved him and had lost him, I knew that death would be a far kinder fate for me than to be dragged into that pit into which Adrien was pulling me. Mind you, I do not recount this with anger. I was not angry, nowhere even close to it, but I was distressed to distraction. I found a bar nearby and there drowned my pain in various liquors. I do not remember how I was returned to my quarters, but I was later to thank a Sargent Guillaume Chasseur who would become a dear friend of mine in later years. I admit to shirking my duties that day, sleeping the day away into the night. I was not wont to awaken, in all honesty. My attempts at alcohol poisoning a failure, I felt that the second-best alternative was to simply fall asleep and never wake again. If Adrien could do this, it follows then that I could do the same. But, then my damnable sense of self-preservation must have kicked in because I found that night that, like so many other nights before, I could not sleep a wink. I remained awake, reading, writing, and remembering. I was already setting the pattern for my later life post-Adrien. He had already become a past tense to me. What lay in that bed in that hospital was no more Adrien than was a bedpost. By some means, I must have fallen into some kind of sleep. I had remembered taking the easy chair next to the fire hoping the warmth and the soft crackling of the fire could soothe my heart. I only could figure this because when I was startled awake by the telling of my door chimes the fire had burned to coals and the room had settled into a chill. My footman was sent home earlier so I rose creakily to address the door myself. The door chimed rather incessantly as if whoever was on the other side of the door could not even have the patience to wait the scant span of time it took me to arrive at the door from my armchair. My French apartment was not a vast affair even for the Ritz as I do not care for grandeur for its own sake. This made my impatience with the door quite impetuous. Upon opening the door I found a young Soldat Ie Classe standing before me giving me a crisp salute. He could not have been more than sixteen. A mere child! Fortunate for him that he had been given this soft duty of delivering messages. I receive my message which was scripted and sealed with the address for L'hôpital Notre-Dame des Vaillants. Naturally, my heart sank lower than I thought it could. I was sure of the message's contents. I dismissed the little messenger boy who, again, regaled me with a crisp French salute and snapped boot heals. He, then, scurried off and left me with this mortar shell in the guise of an envelope and a slip of writing paper. I carefully unfolded it to find it was a telegram marked URGENT. "- START MESSAGE - COME TO HOSPITAL -STOP- MONSIEUR DE SAINT MICHELE AWAKE -STOP- MUST SEE YOU NOW -STOP- -END MESSAGE-" I was away in a bolt, even requisitioning an expensive driver of an automobile to get me to Adrien as quickly as possible! I admit to having run through the corridors of the clinique with quite a few of the nurses scolding my haste. There was nothing for it, I had to be by my beloved's side! Wild horses wouldn't have been able to pull me away and hinder my coming! I arrived by his bedside with his attending nurse and doctor hovering nearby look to me expectantly. This, for some reason, sent an icy chill down my spine! It even slowed my approach for a moment as peculiar indecision accosted my increasingly frantic mind: 'If I were to turn tail now and run back out the way I came, could I forget Adrien ever existed and be spared what I feel must be coming?' It was a fleeting moment's folly which I overcame with inertia as much as will. I was already moving forward and to turn direction right then would have been most difficult. Also, I had a compelling need to see Adrien and, even if it was for the last time, see if I could communicate with him. I wanted him to know that it was I that was there for him! Coming to the bedside our eyes locked as they had those many months ago when we met upon that fated train journey together. His eyes and then his gaunt face smiled in recognition! He was returned to me! He was Adrien again! "(In the French: My Cedric! You have come! You have come, at last! I was certain you would! The Angels have brought you to me!)" Tears came to his eyes and he reached up for me weakly, but with all the effort he seemed he had left to him, which, direly, was not much at all. Despite my typical British forbearance, the tears in me could not be held in check as I came to my knee and embraced my Adrien. His hold on me was so weak and my hands upon his back and the ease at which I lifted him was such that I felt I was already holding a skeleton in my arms. Adrien was skin and bones! He was so emaciated! My tears went from being those of joy to those of grief knowing that no man could live long in this condition. Almost to put a point on things, Adrien reluctantly, even frustratedly, had to release himself from me because that mere act of love had sent his heart to racing and his breathing to come in pants! Merely giving me an embrace was too much for his poor body to take! (I . . . I am ~gasp~ sorry, my Cedric. I . . . want to take you into my arms and hold you for ~gasp~ ever! But . . . I . . ."). For a moment I thought I'd lost him to the darkness again for he settled into his pillow and closed his eyes while his breathing calmed a fraction. At an agonising length, his eyes did open again and focused again upon me. His smile returned, if wanly, as he beckoned to me to come closer so he would not have to speak with effort. ("You know that I love you now and forever. I know that our time together was all too brief, but I believe we loved enough for any lifetime. God brought us together, I am sure of it. For our purpose and His, we found each other in this world and our ties will never break. Even though death must take me . . ."). Adrien sighed and his eyes closed. I was already on the edge of breaking yet galvanising myself for the fact that he might never again open those lovely eyes to meet mine in this life. But, after a rest, he opened them and the sunshine light of them seemed to burn hotter for a second. Adrien became very intense: "Cedric, there is something you should know. It is something that would be even more important than you are to me if such a thing were possible. Now that I can share both of these things in one life, I need no longer make . . . . decisions." Adrien's eyes rolled back into his head as if he was losing consciousness. I immediately clutched his hand uttering my desire for him not to leave just yet. Not until he could, rather, explain himself. (Yes! Yes, this was my biggest reason for asking you to come to me now at such a late hour. Tomorrow, a man will come to find you. He is my family's lawyer.") I became startled at the statement. Why were we talking of lawyers when so much needed to be said in love before our being separated forever? These were my thoughts. They, somewhat, shame me now for what he said next erased my past existence and reset it to another kind of destiny entirely! "He is Mr Bernard. I have entrusted him with the care of my son. . ." Adrien took my other hand so that both were held. The doctor and nurse looked on in rapt attention, but not minding in the least the seeming intimacy of our connection. "S-son?" This shocked me to the core! A vile little piece of my bitter British heart wanted to rise in outrage! All this time Adrien had been a father and, more than likely, a husband too. But, in that way that he had that could read me as easily as one reads a book, Adrien squeezed my hands in understanding. ("He came to me as a gift from my wife, Jillian. He came to me as her last act on this earth! Now, I entrust my one treasure to my only other treasure in this world! It is my will, Lord Cedric Temple, that you adopt my son Brandon D'Saint Michele and take him into your home as your own and as a lasting loving memory of me."). I was shaking! I was shaking with shock! First, I learn of Adrien being a father, then a widower, and then his entrusting me with the care of his only begotten son? Impossible! Incredible! Undeniable! Irresistible. "Would you not wish to watch your boy grow up with your own eyes? If a home is the trouble, you know I have more than enough room for you and the child! My father is no more and I rule my estate now! We can live together there! You needn't leave him with me alone!" I was near to babbling like a fool just then because what he was telling me, in not so many words, was that he could not watch his son grow up. I would need to be his eyes and ears for him from that point on! ("No, my beautiful love, for this is not permitted now. I am used up. I expended myself to save my Brandon and his brothers, both old and new. I have given him back his heritage, but I can no longer give him the life he deserves. I have done all I can. I need you to complete this work for me. Love Brandon. Take him to your heart . . . do this . . . in memory... .of me... .* ") With that, Adrien D'Saint Michele, the only one on this earth who I ever truly loved up to that point in my life, passed away quietly, leaving me alone with a nurse, a doctor, and a new legacy to fulfil. I thought I would cry pitifully upon seeing him leave me thus, but, though tears did come, I was resolved to make good on my promise and that became Adrien's final gift to me. He gave me a future! This kept my broken heart from shattering completely preventing me from dying with Adrien that very night. ~~ Indeed, the following day Mr Bernard did come as promised, a portly man dressed in a sharp pinstriped suit, a top hat, a duck mounted black cane, Spatz upon his Italian made shoes and a magnificent moustache that was white as snow. His blue eyes veritably twinkled like some French variant of Father Christmas. "A, voilà! Monsieur Cedric de Temple, Duk de Buckinghamshire, I presume, oui?" He said with a smile and crisply polite manners. He seemed to pronounce my title with a sense of good-natured mockery. I was not affronted for, by the resolution of The Great War, I had lost my taste for 'Aristocratic Airs' also. I gave the headily perfumed lawyer leave to enter my flat which he appraised as being appropriately subdued for a well-bred English Aristocrat. Indeed, I believe Monsieur Bernard was the only person I have ever met that could discern my noblesse oblige in my lack of ostentation. I was appreciative of the lawyer, truth be told, for more important reasons than just his apparent taste, he was a strange distraction strong enough to pull me away from my near-suicidal melancholy of that morning. I believe the only thing that kept me alive that day was Mr Bernard and his precious charge. With only the cursory niceties of coffee service and light conversation to soften my nerves, Monsieur Bernard entered decisively into the execution of his duties on Adrien's behalf. Being a lawyer myself, I was duly impressed by the quality of Bernard's knowledge and wisdom as he dispensed with the necessary documentation. A Will was read that involved my inheriting Adrien's meagre estate. I acquired a fair bit of French-Flemish land by this deal as le Chateau D'Saint Michele was a fairly large estate. A remnant, indeed, of a Royal land grant to the past count and countess D'Saint Michele. Rather than confiscate the land, the First Republic merely insisted that the D'Saint Michele's should keep the land for use by the many dairy farms that the estate encompassed and that, as wealth grew for the farmers, that the family be entailed to sell off their vast estate to the farmers so that they could own their own farms. The D'Saint Michele family must have done just that because their holdings were reduced to a mere 20-acre parcel which was nowhere near the hundreds of acres it must have been during the Ancient Regime. I could feel my father turning in his grave at this idea. It was one of his many reasons why he 'hated' the French though he ofttimes did a vast amount of business with them. But, in all, the property was neither here nor there, as the main purpose of Bernard's coming was inaugurated with the switching out of the set of documents concerning the Will to another set of documents for a legacy far more precious. "Ah, Oui. Here we have the Articles de Tutelle Simple for that acceptance of temporary guardianship for one M. Brandon Loren D'Saint Michele. Per the express Will of M. Adrien D'Saint Michele, father and only surviving parent to his child, he has authorised you, M. Duc Cedric De Temple, to take custody of his son until a final agreement is reached to take Brandon Loren as your adopted son. Do you wish to sign now or take the time to consider this considerable responsibility, as well as honour, that your friend has bestowed upon you?" It was a highly emotional moment and cooler minds and, perhaps, professional counsel would have cautioned me against signing anything of such moment in my state. However, I had and have never been any more sure of anything in my life! I would take this boy as my own and would love him as my own. He was an echo of my Adrien to my heart and later he became his own song that, in some respects, replaced Adrien's song behind my breast. I did, of course, sign all that Monsieur Bernard proffered and I did so without restraint or regret. All that remained was meeting the boy and seeing if he could accept this new and unfortunate chapter in his already tragic life. I suspected that Brandon Loren would be in some state of hysteria over the loss of both his parents and having none but an English stranger to turn to for succour. I knew I could be inheriting a broken child given to all manner of behavioural issues and neuroses. He would be troubled . . . but then, how could any who lived and survived those times not come away troubled. The Great War had annihilated a way of life. It had reset the World into a new mould unknown to any. New powers had risen and old ones had perished. New philosophies had replaced ancient ones and the 'Order Of Things' no longer meant anything to anyone. Aristocrats, like myself, became anachronisms and largely unnecessary in this Brave New World. I was fortunate that I had inherited true knowledge and true wealth from my father's estate so that I could provide for Brandon in such a way that he did, eventually, grow and thrive! He became all I lived for and still, to this very day, he remains so. He lives in America now, with his son and his grandsons. I have met them all and none know of my title as I entreated Brandon never to reveal it to them. Americans do not need such foolish and archaic notions. I am merely the 'strange English great-granddad'.with the 'funny' accent, big house, and the best toys! When we were introduced, I was captivated again by a set of golden hazel eyes that seemed to shine with their own light. Brandon's light brown hair was full but well-manicured in a French manner that was slicked back with pomade. It had the effect of making his hair a darker colour than it actually was and it set off his features strikingly! He was, at that time, oh so pale and the bruises under his eyes showed he slept little and cried much. But, it was strange, when he was given cause to look up into my eyes and see the love I already bore him there, the weariness of loss seemed to lift from Brandon's slight shoulders. ("Are you to be my new Papa now that my old Papa is gone?") He asked with wary innocence. ("If you would have me. I loved your Papa as much as any person can love another and you are from him. How could I not love you also?") I said kneeling. He allowed me to take up his soft hands. He was not much more than five years old and yet, he had wisdom already. His countenance was stoic as if he were attempting to hold some tremendous force back with the power of his sheer will. It was like being presented with a dam holding back some great torrent. ("Then take me home, Papa. I want to go home!") and with that, the dam burst, Brandon Loren Temple-D'Saint Michele flung himself into my arms, tears bursting forth with a life's time worth of pain shuddering through his whole wee body, and I shared it with him. I soothed it out of him and, indeed, I took my new son home. From that day forth he was happy and his happiness was my happiness. He grew and as he did I saw the mirror of Adrien take shape in him to the point where I'd sometimes forget that I was seeing Brandon in silhouette against a setting sun and not Adrien. My name endures and the name of the other half of my soul which is in heaven endures. Generation upon generation, I am now assured that the Houses of Temple and Saint Michele shall live on into the future. I only hope that in some far off tomorrow one of the future holders of my name will find a love like Adrien and I shared and that they shall cherish it as the greatest of all treasures. Unto this, I will forever hope. This is where my story ends and those of my children and my children's children begin. Their's will be tomorrow's souvenirs! Fini
  10. MrM

    A Love Like Blood

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. In Flanders Fields John McCrae ~~~ As we now know here in these 1950s, WWI was not to be what we had hoped it would be: The war to end all wars. It was only the beginning. It would be the beginning of our ongoing apocalypse. World War II would be the thing that would catch the consciences of our kings and queens. World War I became the catalyst for a future war that, to this day, Great Britain has yet from which to recover, if ever she does. Apocalypse, Armageddon, The End Of All Things: these are terms that have more than just prophetic or mythical meaning for me now. Having somehow survived two world wars and now a 'cold' war, I am now assured that I must be living in the End Times per the Revelation of St. John, the Beloved. But, in truth, my End Of All Things came much sooner than my current situation in the present day. I left something behind in those long years between 1914 and 1917. I only have the souvenirs of my memories and traumas to know that life existed for me once. Since those days there has been only one thing that I've lived for, but I shall reveal that in my revelation a bit later. Outside of the life that I keep for this One, there is no life in me since those days long ago. Cedrick Temple died in World War I. What was left was a living body with only half of its soul remaining. That other half of me died with a quickening that still causes me to question the realities of time and space as we know them. How can time move so quickly and yet so slowly at the same time? How can something happen in a space of weeks and months that feel as though ages of the world have passed in geological slowness? I imagine it is a matter of perception. Death brings an end to movement and a stop to time. For the part that Death keeps of a person, that portion stops in time and fixes there. Yet again, it becomes like another souvenir encased in adamantine amber, frozen forever, like an insect's fossil cast there as a memory of what once was, but can never be again! Adrien left me the morning after his giving me his most precious 'moonlight soliloquy' with its beatific contents hiding its equally dire omen. Indeed, 'the echo of love's ghosts that glimmer in their time and then evaporate with such alacrity upon the ever undulating movements of time' are words that will forever haunt me. How such beautiful words can end themselves as daggers of ice embedded in my heart is one of many mysteries the Great War has left with me. As came to pass, I was not able to tarry long to grieve. Although all of my soul desired nothing more than to follow Adrien out into that cold undiscovered country beyond Death, my damnable English sense of duty managed to countermand my bleakest of desires. That very afternoon after Adrien had left me, a telegram arrived on a silver and gold platter addressed to me. It was from my Father. I was to return at once to Buckinghamshire. He was assured that since France had now gotten itself mixed up in this dominoes game of kingdoms, czardoms, and republics, that Great Britain was right to follow. England was entailed upon France as much as Germany was entailed upon Austria-Hungary. As per usual, it would be the two great Teutonic nations that would have to decide the fate of the world ever so much and once again - fools for war that both our two people's are. Father wanted me 'In Place' when the expected eventuality did occur. This would give him control over our fate in the situation. My father was many things, but a Teutonic fool he was not! Should Britain engage in this foolish escapade, the House of Temple would stand ready, yet stand cleverly. Our house has stood Original to England since mythical Arthurian times and we have done so by navigating the periodic and inevitable storms of war that England has always enjoyed getting herself into. Honour and loyalty to the Crown are, of course, paramount, but only in so much as the Temples can survive to the next generation and not become extinct by the ever capricious natures of politics and war. It was under these 'Rules of Engagement' that my Father sent for me. I boarded the RMS Britannic. It was, at the time, a brand new ship of the line; a sister ship to the unfortunate Titanic. Alas, I would be one of its last aristocratic passengers still as a Gentleman rather than as an Officer. Britannic would serve for the remainder of the war as a hospital ship. A short two years after my voyage home on the great ship, she would lay down her life in service to the Crown. Another costly casualty of war, Britannic sank in the Aegean Sea after hitting a mine. Not even hospital ships were sacrosanct during the Great War. As you can see, my life, from then on, would become one of near misses. Very little remains of my time after Adrien except for my memories and the fruits that I have promised to explain later in this memoir. Even the ships upon which I would travel would be things that I would survive and outlast, perhaps, for no other reason than as a witness to tell their stories. I arrived home in a state of rushed ardency. I had first expected my Father or, at least, one of his retinues, to greet me at the train station to explain the situation to me. The only one to greet me was our chauffeur who conveyed me back to Temple House in his typically professional reticence to speak to his elite passenger. It was one of many times in my life that protocol would chafe upon my sensibilities to the point of absolute distraction! Upon entry into the palatial anteroom of my cold and empty home, I was again expecting to be greeted by my Father who would, no doubt, need to recite his didactic commands to me regarding family honour, duty, and, most importantly, appearances. There was no such greeting. I asked after my Father because his disposition in his post seemed spiced with uncharacteristic urgency. I felt assured that I was to be expected. However, the new footman, a charmingly handsome fellow by the name of Sheldon who couldn't have been more than eighteen years of age, informed me, with regret, that my father had been called away to London on business of a most pressing matter. He had even taken Geoffreys with him leaving only this new footman in charge of the house. I felt the familiar pang of how little my Father thought of me. After the weeks of being cherished by someone who truly loved me, I felt this cold homecoming like a splash of ice water to my face. I assured myself, at the time, that should my Father make another appearance again, I would give him a piece of my mind no matter the consequences! To pull me away like that after the kind of heartbreak I had just suffered and then not even be there to greet me? The very idea brought bile up into my throat! Poor Sheldon could see my displeasure and offered to fix a drink to settle my nerves. That talk, of course, would never transpire. I only saw my Father briefly from then on, as it had always been. This time, however, it would be because I was too busy for him rather than vice-versa. I was left with detailed instructions by my Father in a letter. The very business at hand that had caused him to desert me, was 'for my benefit', as it were. I was to await another telegram from him. Then, if all things went as planned, I would follow the telegram's promptings and report to a location to be revealed in the said telegram. Until then, I was to wait and 'not do anything rash'. The expectation in my engaging in 'rash' activities brought an intensity of fear that I'd never known before. Needless to say, I slept not at all that night waiting for a doom I was sure would find me. I was convinced that I would be imprisoned in some position sheltered and locked away. I would be prevented from any way of getting to France to fulfil my hope of finding my beloved Adrien and fighting by his side. Where some young men dreaded entering into the field of combat for fear that they would, likely, never be heard from again, I dreaded my likely inability to effect that same eventuality. I wanted combat duty if it meant that I could use what resources I could muster to find Adrien and rescue him from his nobility of purpose! My Father, per his penchant for promptness, had, without delay, sent his telegram in the early hours of the morning. I had found sleep during that time, though it amounted to perhaps only two hours at most. I was to report back to Oxford. To say that I was surprised by this is no understatement. I was assured I'd be allowed, at least, to work from London at the War Office, or some such. But, to return from whence I came? It seemed absurd for me to return to the place where my life had taken such an unexpected turn in finding Adrien. Oxford would thus torment me with my memories of Adrien and the fact that I had to, impotently, abide at the University I suspected, for the duration of the war. I'd never again been able to see Adrien and, more than likely, I would never know if he had survived or not. As it turned out, my course of study was changed for the war effort. I would be turned out an Officer from the Oxford Officer Training Corp. Upon the fields of my old contemplations I, instead, trained my body and mind toward my military service to the Crown. It was rather a satisfactory eventuality, or so I thought at the time. I held hope that I would be turned out into command on the front line. Where others in my class dreaded that fate, I longed for it! There, I could, perhaps, track Adrien and, perhaps, connive a way to fight with him for his homeland! There could be no greater protector of another than one driven to become a lion of battle in the name of love! A love like blood that runs hot in the veins and seeks only ruin to an enemy bent on the destruction of that love! I trained vigorously and was even merited on my prowess and acumen. Even my Father took notice of my change upon my infrequent leaves to Temple House for a restorative retreat. Retreats I chaffed at most agonisingly being that I wanted to clear the academy to get on with it and get to the battlefront where I might find Adrien and fight with him! My Father even condescended to treat me a smile as he saw my uniform and my merits already being on display. He was wont to express his 'admiration' for the OTC for having the wherewithal to forge such a fine shape of a man from the lump of boyhood I had once been! Naturally, it was the OTC's doing and not my efforts that made this change possible, but oddly, even my Father's backhanded compliments held little sting for me. I was bent, with all of my will, toward battle! It was a lust in me driven by my unnameable love that my Father could never guess or come to understand. My passion for war he could only account to an awaking of my British aristocratic blood. The Knight's Gleam, he liked to call it. It must have been something he'd read in a memoir or some such as my Father was in no way poetic in his speech, generally. But of course, as is my curse, my Father had other plans for me that did not involve the Western Front directly. He was far too influential with the War Office being that his investitures in Rail and Train made of him a driving force for British expansion of the building of weapons of war. My father, ever the frustrated engineer, had spent all his time while I was away in Southern France, lobbying for a defence industry that could be fashioned out of industrialised steel and engine manufacturers. My father was practically single-handed among the Peerage in his beliefs in a new kind of warfare. He had kept up with German industrialists and had even conferred with them upon many occasions. He saw first hand what German Industry could do and, most importantly, how flexible it was! A factory making steam engines for trains and ships could be retooled for a war effort with a rapidity that was positively frightful! These things I would later read in a short memoir he wrote of his efforts. This dovetailed into his plans for me, alas. With my blind ambition to accomplish whatever task or subject placed before me to speed my induction into the Army Officer Corp, I did not pay that much attention to the actual core of my course of study. I was naive in trusting to my schools that what I was doing was preparing myself for the intricacies of mechanised war. It should have dawned on me that I was learning rather more about the engineering aspects of war machines than were my peers. My fellows, who had been directed toward other courses of study, often had no idea of what I tried to discuss with them. They were far more interested in tactics and the strategies of this general or that general, etc., where I was often stuck upon some aspect of a machine gun's workings! I, in fact, rather horrified one of my fellows, a handsome cadet of common stock, but from a well-off bourgeois household. I was thoughtlessly rattling off the output of the Vickers MK 1 when Michaels, the name of our war college cadet, was literally shaking and almost ready to cry! I'll never forget what he said, "450 and 600 rounds per minute? Imagine, if each round found a mark in one man then there would be at least a mean average of 550 dead in a single minute? How . . . are we expected to survive a war built upon such weapons, much less win it?" I quickly changed the subject to whiskey, a more favourable topic for discussion between poor Michaels and I. I made no mention of his words to anyone. In that climate in those times, such talk was tantamount to treason for all knew the truth . . . the fields of France and Belgium, where the war was being waged, were becoming a charnel house and England, knowingly or unknowingly, was sending her men to certain doom. Michaels' question haunts me to this day. It haunted me far more then because I knew that my beloved was amid such weapons or worse! My Father had assured me that the Germans had a distinct advantage where their machine guns were concerned. They were damnably efficient! My Father had told me, upon one of my 'resting' visits, that the Germans were developing a twin-barrelled machine gun capable of tearing out 1600 rounds per minute! I let no one know of this. I accounted it one of my Father's flights of fancy into super-machination. As it turned out, he knew, possibly before anyone else, of the Gast Gun - a terrible weapon comparable to a sausage grinder of human flesh! We were all fortunate that this weapon never saw much use in the Great War or it might have been possible that English-kind could have been exterminated off of the face of the Earth. But, I digress. My thoughts wander into minutia due to the safety of mental myopia much as they did through my short stay through the AOC. In the span of half a year, I was considered 'fully prepared' to take on official duties. A course of study that should normally have taken two full years was reduced to approximately six months. Upon my commissioning, as a Second Lieutenant, I was 'forward' deployed as far as London. By fathoms of connivance that, to this day, I cannot possibly plumb, I was remanded into the custody of the Industrial Liaison Office, an artefact of my own Father's creation! I should have been flattered and been completely put to a loss of words regarding my Father's regard for me in his dubious efforts. Going to these extreme lengths to create an entire bureaucracy where-in he could install me and keep me out of direct conflict, were machinations worthy of a Medici! Unfortunately, I could only see calumny, cowardice, and frustration from his efforts! I wanted to go into battle! I needed to be with Adrien . . . somehow! But, my Father had completely blocked my every attempt to accede to a combat post on the Western Front. I hated him for it. He drew my unending wrath with his contrivance. Seeing no way out of my trap, I settled in and worked my station with a diligence that afforded me awards. Though I may have been present at such ceremonies, I have very little recollection of attaining these 'high honours.' Why should anyone merit medals for merely holding down a desk so that it would not fly away in an ill-favoured breeze? As it turned out, my single-minded escape from my pain was to focus my intelligence and skill at finding ways to resupply heavy artillery and tank divisions using technologies in rail transit that my Father had funded and overseen. In all due fairness, the rail system in delivering goods and services to our battle-weary Armies allowed me ways to improve the Post such that letters and personal items might have a more efficient way of arriving at the Front so that they could be enjoyed by our forces with some regularity. Such comforts from home, I believe, gave many of our men the lasting strength to survive and endure their long siege of the German incursive line. It may have been for this reason that the Army had decorated me. Such a silly thing as I did this for solely selfish reasons. I managed to connive the position so that I could have my ear to the Post. This meant that I could have any intelligence for my ears directed to me with speedy efficiency and without interference from 'Command'. I came to know later that this would be my lasting legacy in British Service! By such means and protocols, I helped to found an intelligence network for Britain that would go unrivalled up until the insertion of the CIA and KGB to the world stage. That said, at the time I could keep an ear out for Adrien and I could facilitate getting eyes afield to keep a lookout for him. I managed, through deft negotiations and alliances through my control of the Post, to create quite the spy network with the one goal of keeping watch over my 'friends'. As I worked my long hours that were extended agonisingly into a greater expanse of hours due to my search for Adrien, I should have known my Father was being just as diligent. Outside of my knowledge, my Father built a web to forever ensnare me and ground me such that his legacy could move forward. All of his will was bent upon this, as I was to find. Lorelei Sebastina Graham-Peebles came into my life at an Officer's Ball held at Temple House in celebration of my field commission to Captain. By duty as an Officer and a Gentleman, I was bound to attend, naturally, and so it was that my Father, with his fellow conspirators, arranged a lively hen house of very 'suitable' ladies for my review. All were lovely enough and I knew that I would possibly be disinherited if I did not pick at least one to court per my 'familial obligation'. I danced and conversed with all in twenty of them in a most exhausting process, but did finally settle upon Lorelei as being the most tolerably winsome of the gaggle. She was suitably well mannered, even-tempered, attractive, and well-appointed being the daughter of a baronet. Alas, her family was a failing house in southern Scotland, but, at this point, my Father was beyond trying to tie me to any advantageous arrangements outside of finding a woman of class that could bare a legitimate heir to his name. Lorelei was better favoured in her findings in my regard, I supposed, by her demure submission to my every proper whim of that evening. She laced every charm she could contrive in tying me to her favour. For the record, I should say it worked rather well since she was the 'winner' of my affections that evening. I made a good show of it for my Father's sake. My only regret is that my contrivance was so dutifully received by Lorelei that she was convinced of my true and undying ardour for her in my disposition. The feat achieved, our courtship extended for a proper six months which was three months shy of the usual courting period required by tradition. This was due to my Father's impatience due to the War Office's threats of fielding all able-bodied men to the Western Front by the end of 1916. He, rightfully, feared that I would be sent to my certain doom before having impregnating my wife-to-be with his proper heir. Once that was achieved, I'm sure my Father would not have spent any sleeplessness upon my being put afield with the possibility of being martyred. In that eventuality, I'd make a fine painting of one of the Temple's sacrificial dead to the cause of Crown and Country! My child (a son naturally) would be raised by my Father to replace me quite easily enough. All my child would know of me is a portrait in the Grand Gallery and a story as made up as King Arthur's fable. Lorelei and I were married on May 17, 1916. I did manage to consummate the marriage and my awkwardness in this proved better than I could have hoped that I was still a 'virgin' upon my intercourse with her. She was a virgin but had taken the liberty of having a doctor incise her maiden's head such that our first coupling would be more agreeable for her and thus a better pleasure for me. It is with sadness that I admit that my pleasure and happiness was of utmost importance to Lady Lorelei Sabastina Graham-Temple. She was very much in love with me as I was to find. Such a boon any gentleman of my standing should thrice rejoice, being that aristocrats rarely marry out of love, but out of facility. It saddens me to this day being that I could not love her with the same affection as she did me. Of course, my heart belonged to Adrien who was, for all I knew, gone beyond the veil into the 'reeds' as the Egyptians quoted the fact of Death so eloquently. In the short period that he'd left me in Nice to the moment I sat at my secretary composing yet another searching note in his finding, I heard not a word from him or even about him. I had many eyes abroad keeping a search out, but, in all due course, I could not suffer to think that anyone should have any time at all to waste on my maudlin pining in Adrien's regard. The War went badly for the Allies and, from what horrors I was having reported to me of the hideous routs at Ypres and the Somme, I could only find it base sin to saddle any poor man with my burden who was struggling amidst the apocalypse they were undergoing day to day in the trenches. That said, I was wracked like a butterfly caught on a wheel, with wings torn and soul cracking, as each day passed without hearing a word from my heart. Lorelei could not but notice my persistent and ever-present melancholy. She said of me that 'I walked as if I were one of the Undead.' I had become like a creature bereft of life but going through the movements as a mockery of life. This was something she gleaned from one of her gothic penny dreadfuls she was fond of reading. Lorelei was given to romantic hyperbole, a quality many gentlemen would have found quite diverting in a wife. Alas, for me, her parallels were far too close to home to be entertainment. Each day the dagger of ice stabbed deeper and deeper into my dying heart knowing that Adrien was out there somewhere, suffering . . . perhaps dying . . . and I was powerless to do anything but continue in some ersatz existence more living nightmare than life! Beyond our First Night, I shared no more affectionate attentions to my dear wife. My melancholia over Adrien forbade any natural warmth a man should have with his beloved spouse. Lorelei was coming to understand that, despite surface appearances for my Father's sake, our marriage was a contrivance and rapidly becoming a fraudulent affair. She could not know why I pined, but she did know for a fact that I did pine for someone lost to me. That truth I did give to her as it was only fair to her that she knows. She, of course, divined that it was some lost lady of my heart that my clockwork steel brained Father had not approved of and had sent on her way despite any kind of happiness she could have provided me. Lorelei gathered the true nature of my Father's desires rather early on in our courtship. She was more than happy to go along with it being that she was in love with me and figured I was likewise. By any road, as I mentioned before early on, our short marriage lasted perhaps a little over a year, but finally ended mercifully for the both of us. She cited, except for the First Night, that our marriage was unfulfilled and, as far as she could see, would remain so for as long as she remained with me. We both decided first to separate and then to divorce in secret, that way we could avoid 'shaming' or respective houses. Our efforts were sound and should have worked well if it had not been for that foul betrayer Geoffreys who managed to deduce the dissolution of my marriage to Lorelei. He dutifully reported all to my Father who, in great Lordly Imperiousness, 'summoned' me with a writ to appear before him and our family lawyer. I knew this meant he intended to put on the thumbscrews and threaten me with disinheritance if I did not retake Lorelei or find some other broodmare to fulfil his desires for an heir. At that point in my Undeath, I had lost much of the will to live so disinheritance would only be the nail driven into the coffin for me, as it were. I had my work with the Army and my law license to live on should I decide that was worth doing, which, at that time, did not seem worth a farthing. I assured my Father of this in front of Mr Milkes, our estate lawyer. My Father was, for once in his sour life, left without words by my truth. The fury building in him was fascinating to watch as, unlike lower classmen who turn red as vulture necks when in the heat of anger, my father would lose all colour and become grey as a March sky. I figured he'd be wont to launch into one of his long-winded diatribes about familial duty, honour, grievances before God, betrayal of my mother's memory, etc. But, none of this came. His eyes merely narrowed and he went to take up his quill and made the requirement of the Statement of Will and Testament to the Temple Legacy from Mr Milkes. Milkes, to his credit, bravely, held the document kept in its leather binding to frustrate my Father's ill-conceived wrath. "Before you sign this document, Lord Temple, you do understand that as Cedrick is the last of the male line with no recourse in blood for any other to inherit this legacy and title, that, you will knowingly commit to the ending of the House of Temple within the Peerage of the British Empire? A family that has held a title in England since the Plantagenets?" Milkes warned. This did give my Father pause, but he did retort: "So it will end with my issue that has abdicated his duties to this House? Should it not at least end with me, the last true Lord Temple of this House? This one does not fancy his duties as anything at all! Even amid the greatest war, this Empire has ever faced, he still abdicates his duties in favour of some vain impetuousness! Married barely a year and already divorcing? Scandalous! Outrageous! A stigmatic mark of shame from which Temple House shall not recover, mark my words! This? This would be the heir to my legacy?" "Do as you will Father. You and I have never been anything to one another but bringers of unnecessary pain. I have known love and I have lost it, just as you have. But, I shall not hold to a legacy by paying the price you have. I would go to battle. I would fight to my death so that then, at the very least, you can have one last painting to hang in the Gallery. You will know that the last of us died on his feet defending our realm just as the first of us did. Lorelei was betrayed by a contrivance of your making to force my hand in marriage. Shamefully, also by your contrivance, I was denied my right of valour as a son of a Knight of this kingdom. I could be seen as one of the cowards holding a white flower proving my craven image as a cloistered son of a self-serving aristocrat . . ." A loud sound of a fist striking the mahogany desk before us cut off my diatribe. He stood shakily, holding his smarting fist clasped in his other hand behind his back to regain some sense of decorum. His efforts were in vain, however, as I saw him shaking. I remember having a slight fear that I'd sent him into some kind of apoplexy. Milkes rose also in caution ready to assist my Father should he fail to remain standing. I did not rise, I did not seem to care at that moment. He had broken something that day. A trust I had that, no matter what, he'd never resort to disowning me for his displeasure. I knew then that he had it in him to be just that cold or . . . so I thought. "Oh, my son . . . how you wound me! Is this what you think of your Father? That I should want you . . . dead? Why the very idea that I should want you a lifeless painting in that mockingly hateful gallery in that blasted main hall of horrors?" The tremor in my Father's voice was one I'd never heard before. If I wounded him, then I had felt sorry for this, but then, at the least, he could know how I had been wounded by him year after year with the coldness, the neglect, the constant disapproval and then finally, this insult to injury. To threaten me with being disowned? It was a bridge too far. So I persisted: "It seems the only way to please you, my Lord Father. My living self is not enough. Better that I should become another memory to haunt this manor; another ghost to wander its halls." It may seem cruel now how I prodded this on, but it was a confrontation long in the making and I had a bitterness made that much more bitter by my nameless love that was, perhaps, lost to me forever to whom my Father prevented me from going personally to find. "Please, desist!" He turned to face me and there were indeed tears running down his cheeks. I froze as he glared in his anguish. Milkes was meekly quiet, hands folded in front of himself, looking down, trying to hide in plain sight as this aggrieved 'show-down' played out. "As you wish, Lord Temple. If there is nothing else, I should be on my way. Duties to perform and all. I trust you'll inform me by post, Mr Milkes, of any decisions reached?" Ah the British coldness, I had learned it well! Again, I equate it to the ice and fire of Iceland: a fiery hell iced over with the most perfect of disguises! Inside I roiled with rage, sadness, pride, hatefulness, and shame, but none of these I felt safe sharing with a man who was proving as much my enemy as was the Kaiser in Germany. I harnessed my inborn reserve and locked my insides away behind iron doors colder than ice. It may have been that my father was nearing a reconciliation with me that night. I may have finally broken through his iron portcullis and gained access to that bitter fortress he'd built around his heart. But, as perhaps a successful raiding party might, being weary of the exercise of gaining access to a castle full of worthlessness and disease after a long siege, I abandoned my 'prize'. I left Temple House that night only to return for the wake of my Father who died shortly after that very night. I account his death as partly my fault, perhaps. But, I comfort myself with the thought that he had been building his tomb since my mother's death and his discarding of me was merely the sealing caulk around the door to his crypt. He'd sealed himself away from any love the world had to offer, including mine and in so doing, died a lonely broken old man with only regrets to keep him company. I was determined not to follow his example and I did something most unlike me in the mind I had in those foolish days of youth. In the Chapel of Temple House where my father lay in state, I went alone, lit the candles around the small nave and I sat at a pew keeping a vigil for my Father. In the wee hours of that cold early morning in April, I prayed, which was something I hadn't done since a boy. I prayed for the release of my Father's soul from the drear reality of this world and I prayed that he would understand love in Heaven since he could not give it credence on Earth. I could not contemplate that he went into the Inferno. I could not imagine anything my Father could have done to warrant eternal torture. I cannot fathom how any human being of such limited perception and means could ever warrant such unjust punishment. But, that is neither here nor there . . . I prayed, also, to find Adrien! I prayed ardently and finally tearfully that the Lord would shed His mercy upon us both and reunite us in some way! I left the Chapel as the dawn broke feeling something I hadn't felt in years . . . hope! As it turned out, I found that 'miracles' sometimes do happen! But of course, they may not give results that one is expecting. Later on that week, I was invited by some of my Father's gentlemen friends to a performance of 'Madame Butterfly' to be performed in private at Stafford Park, the grand estate of Lord Edmond, Earl of Stafford and Leicester. With its beautifully accented gardens and tightly maintained halls, Stafford Park was every bit the parallel to Temple House, though in a warm baroque that was much more inviting than the austerity of the neo-classical appointments of Temple House. This was my first viewing of the opera 'Madame Butterfly' and, I admit, it had an overwhelming concordance with my feelings at the time. I, naturally, felt the part of the beautiful Cio-Cio-san left aside by her Lieutenant. Adrien was my Pinkerton and I felt bound to abide for him even unto his failure to return. I shared much with the wives of the 'widows walks' that were all the rage in Victorian and Georgian homes of the time. These being parapets atop the highest gated mansard roofs crowing the homes in the newer establishments in London. Places where one could walk and overlook the Themes or the sea for a sign of the ship baring one's loved one home alive from the Death that had been pre-destined for them upon the battlefront. As if by some cruel contrivance against personal pride, I received a telegram with a priority stamp affixed to it whilst I watched this prophecy in Italian Opera mock me in innocence. I opened the letter . . . Two years nearly to the day of his leaving me, after the death of my marriage and my father, I had received first word regarding Adrien! My heart stopped beating, I think, but just for a sadly temporary moment. The telegram was addressed directly to me upon my finding. It had been sent ten days prior, a miracle in correspondence in those days of cut telegraph lines and notoriously undependable ship-to-land transmissions. This had to be the work of a friend in my intelligence network. My intricate networking and efforts to connect one ministry or command to another had borne fruit and the friends and allies I had managed to make correspondence within France came through with information I needed on my Adrien. Alas, the news was dire, however. Adrien had been wounded in some way and I was warned that if I should like to see him in life I would need to book passage as soon as I may! This, necessarily, set in me a cold terror that has frozen into my iciness of heart to this day. Adrien had been found, but he was dying! The last souvenir I'd have of my love for him would have to come by his death bed . . . I was devastated, but determined. I went forth from Stafford House directly and without delay to the train and then to a Royal Marine transport across the Channel amid concerns of German submarine torpedo boats attacking at any given moment. Death, then, however, was for me a boon. At least if I were to die upon my crossing I could be the one to greet my Heroic Adrien in the Death and accompany him either into the Light of Heaven or the Dark of Hell . . . but we would be together there! I came to Paris. I came to L'hôpital Notre-Dame des Vaillants where my contacts had led me to find Adrien. I came to his bedside . . . . . . only to find that Adrien was not there. Only was his body there! His mind was long gone! My love, like blood from a wound, flowed out of me as all my hopes, dreams, and promises of joy drained onto the floor. If he had been truly dead then my death could join me to him. But, Adrien was dead only in mind. His body yet lived, though his eyes stared out at nothing and the hand that I clutched amid my tears felt as cold and lifeless as that of a corpse. Adrien . . . was already gone though his heartbeat still and his breathing came in slow, ragged, draughts. I was too late!
  11. MrM

    Chapter 40

    I agree with Comsie. The hot flash of infatuation does cool off pretty quickly. Hopefully, it cools into a solid 'comfortable' kind of love, but sometimes that has to be identified. I hope you guys had a heart to heart before all this. Breaking things off suddenly is like an amputation. It leaves a bleeding stump! Stay in touch with him. The 'time and distance' thing can reveal that 'cooler kind of love' if you two find that you can't forget one another. ❣️
  12. I know of God’s existence since I really did meet him at one point in my life, so I cannot ever be an Athiest. I can tell you this much, the evil of the Westborogh Baptist Church is contrary to His will and that they are the personification of The Leaven Of The Pharisees. This was Jesus’ greatest warning He left with mankind - beware those that use God’s name for their own power and wealth. They are the Serpents of Eden. Not those of us who love...
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