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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Never Too Late To Believe - 24. Ties

Physical or metaphorical.

In his workshop – studio, if he needed to be posh – Rob stared aimlessly into space. He sat slumped back in his seat, fingers draped over the edge of his functional IKEA desk. People laughed when he said where the desk came from. What did he care? Office furniture wasn't his thing. Instead of the usual Tuesday afternoon chore of writing up that morning's session with Tyler Jackson, or indeed doing anything useful, his thoughts slid back to the holiday in Norwich. A smile played on his lips. His chest and groin flooded with warmth. Without conscious thought, he pushed the chair back from the desk. Opening his legs, one hand moved to cup himself through the pair of battered jeans.

The Castle Pub had indeed been a good recommendation. Unpretentious and friendly, the mid-week crowd occupied the space like at any other bar, chatting and drinking. And flirting, of course.

His smile widened. Within ten minutes of him arriving, one guy, slim and well-groomed, approached with an offer of a drink. No sooner had he been politely declined, than another man, older and with more meat on his bones, sidled up with a compliment about Rob's greyish-blond beard. Another appreciative observation about his chino-clad arse had followed.

Rob relaxed, smile sliding into a smirk. Even with the university, new faces on the scene in Norwich attracted attention. Positive, flattering attention. It did wonders for the ego of a guy in his mid-fifties. A grin replaced the smirk. Fresh meat and a pack of hungry wolves came to mind.

In the pub, Rob had waited only a few more minutes until a mop of brown curls announced the arrival of Will, his server from lunchtime at the sandwich bar. They exchanged smiles. A couple of friends stood a little behind Will, looking on with interest. Rob spared a few seconds to look past Will. One friend was a slim, twinkish guy – not Rob's look of choice – but the flash of amusement in his eyes promised intelligence. The other was disconcertingly androgynous. Student-aged maybe, the individual had obviously planned every aspect of their appearance to avoid being gender pigeon-holed. Rob tried not to stare, a flush of confusion building.

Shifting suddenly in his seat, Rob banged one knee against the metal trim of his work desk. “Fuck!” He rubbed the injury before settling back down. “Hmm.” That wasn't the part of the recollection he wanted to focus on, but it highlighted something. A something which had made him squirm. He didn't understand genderqueer people. Intellectually, he got it – sort of. But not in his gut. The lack of gender markers – or their ambiguity – perturbed him.

He let out a sigh. “And that makes me better than Eric Whitehouse how exactly?” A silence, broken only by his functional wall clock, answered him.

It was an important point, one he would do well to examine further before he talked to the other man. For all his trumpeted experience, there were still aspects of queerness and sexuality Rob found difficult. He thought back to the morning after that wretched house-warming party. Setting aside any excuse of the cider hangover, he'd been a dick at breakfast with Eric's friends.

“A complete dick.”

His gaze fixed on next-door's fence, noting ivy from his own barely tamed garden he'd have to remove. Eric had sucked on his teeth when shown around. Maybe a few afternoons next Spring would enable the pair of them to get it under control. Rob dismissed his current train of thought. Eric was already in his to-do list. Instead he allowed an image of he, Will, and Will's twinkish mate – he couldn't recall any name – together in bed to settle somewhere in the region of his groin.

How long since his last threesome? A couple of years? Longer, probably. Rob stroked the bulge in his jeans, resisting the urge to unzip. He didn't want to hurry.

From the start, Will had signalled his interest. Limited seating encouraged the pair of them to squeeze together on a banquette. Their combined heat, thigh joining thigh, threatened to burn through his trousers. Hands – and more – wandered. He remembered one large, limber, unclad foot exploring the upper reaches of a leg. Though how Will managed the contortion, he wasn't sure. Something to do with crossing his limbs under the table. Later, they snatched kisses, licking and nipping exposed skin.

“Fuck.” One hand slipped into the crotch of his jeans.

How many shots had he downed? Sufficient to blur the edges of everything. Hardly the most mature decision of the week. Going back to Will's tiny flat with him and the twink was unwise to most people's minds. His choice. None of them was drunk. They'd taken sufficient time to talk through preferences, limits, permissions. Then, oh, yes, then they'd got down to it.

Rob let the memories play, losing himself in pleasure, in the thrill of being desired, in those glorious sexual highs, until he came, hips instinctively bucking.

One of the major muscles in his lower back pinged. “Owh! Fucking hell.” That killed off any extended afterglow. Waiting only until he felt reconnected, Rob prised himself out of the chair and shuffled off to the main house to clean up and dose himself with Ibuprofen.

After a late stop for lunch, Andy was on the phone to Eric while sitting in the pub's narrow car park. There was just enough time for a quick chat before his next client. A spirited comparison of shopping lists ceased when Eric fell silent mid-sentence.

“Everything OK?”

A pause; then, Someone's in the garden, I can hear them running around.

“Eric, phone Emily Standish. She can–”

Little bastards. I'm going outside. If they think I'm a coward, they've got another thing coming.


The line clicked. Its disconnection silenced whatever else Andy had been about to say. He struck the steering wheel with the flat of his hand. “For fuck's sake.” What now? The older man hadn't mentioned any trouble since the graffiti incident. But neither had he thought to ask the question beyond the immediate aftermath. Should he phone the police? Call Emily Standish himself? Curse Eric for being a stubborn fool. One thing was certain. He'd equip Eric with a mobile phone if he had to buy and maintain the fucking thing himself.

Andy waited, watching seconds tick by on the phone's screen. Five minutes – if Eric didn't reply by then, he'd summon whatever cavalry he could.

With about ten seconds to spare, the screen burst into life. The old-fashioned ringtone was Eric's.

“What happened? You OK?”

Couple of dogs. One of the larger breeds – retriever or similar. The owner apologised. Said they'd slipped their leashes. Eric let out a long breath. Sorry, me being jumpy.

“Don't apologise. I'm glad it was only a dog or two and you're OK.” Andy had to bite his lip to stop himself from scolding the older man. He'd come back to the subject though. “You need a phone.”

A mobile, you mean? A slightly shaky chuckle followed. Don't see I can put it off much longer. Everyone's been at me to get one. Is it going to be expensive?

“There's an initial outlay certainly.” He allowed a brief silence to open up. Money and Eric was tricky territory. “Adam and I can help with a loan. Paying us back'll be easy once Emily Standish starts lining your pockets.”

You make it sound like bribes.

Andy sniggered.

I could save up.

“True.” He took a breath. “Eric, you need that phone now. Not in a couple of months. Now.”

Alright. God, anyone would think you've got shares in BT or whoever.

“Err – I'm not going to make my fortune from the sale of one handset, however you look at it.” He imagined Eric's grimace. “Look, if you're not too busy tomorrow, meet me in Hereford. We'll go shopping.”

My idea of hell.

“Yeah, yeah. I'll phone first thing and we can work out the arrangements.” Andy glanced at the time. “Gotta go, Eric. I'm late.”

Tossing the phone onto the passenger seat, he squeezed the SUV past the car park's other occupants and finally made it to the open road.

Early evening shadows gathered in the workshop. Rob turned off the desk lamp, rotated his neck to ease cramped muscles and sighed. He had a decision to make.

Being Tuesday, the decision concerned Tyler Jackson. Rob took off his glasses. Rubbing both eyes, he mused on the youth's chaotic life. Apparently, Tyler had started off his GCSE year at school by bragging, to anyone who would listen, about what he'd done in summer holidays. So far, so unremarkable, except Tyler's life wasn't exactly one of holidays abroad, days at theme parks, or sporting adventures.

With a roll of his eyes, Rob returned to the school social worker's report. The highlight of Tyler's summer was apparently harrassing – Rob wondered how the teen had put it – an old man and vandalising his home. Eric Whitehouse's troubles immediately came to mind. Rob let out a breath. Friendships had the potential to cloud judgement. He'd have to investigate the possible connection to Eric later. Another complication. One half shrug later, he put it to one side.

The alleged details started off cartoonishly lurid. Not that they were funny. A two-dimensional, highly coloured account from Tyler cast the teen as a bad-ass, making his presence felt in the 'hood. In other words, an attempt to impress. An attempt to shore up the youth's straight, hard guy credentials. Such as they'd ever been. Rob wondered who'd appeared on the scene at school to make Tyler feel that insecure.

Under pressure from the school authorities, Tyler's account morphed into something more mundane. Rob guessed they'd outlined where the first account might lead him: the youth justice system, a criminal record, possible detention far from his home turf.

Which brought him back to the decision. The school's alternative involved a reconciliation meeting with the victim. Rob frowned. From what he'd read, it wasn't a cop-out. The youth would have to admit his part, apologise, and listen to the victim's statement. He might even have to answer questions. Tyler had asked for him to be his supporter during the session.

Rob stared out into the garden's lengthening shadows. Would he? Could he?

Now comfy on the living room's sofa, Rob shrugged and tapped a shortcut. His stomach rumbled. A rushed sandwich for lunch hadn't stretched through the intervening hours. Waiting for the call to be answered, he reached out for the bundle of take-out menus. Thai green chicken curry or the Indian special?

Beth Linklater. The voice, professional, came across as unamused.

“Oh… err… hi, this is Rob Bairstow here.” He dropped the menus, cursing himself for an idiot. “Could you spare a few minutes to talk through an issue? It concerns Tyler Jackson and the proposed reconciliation session.”

It's six-thirty. This is hardly an out-of-hours emergency.

Rob gaped. The last time he'd looked, it had been a little after five. “You're right. Sorry. Didn't realise it was that late.” Tyler's named social worker wasn't known for her approachability. The teen loathed her. Quickly, he explained. “I spent the afternoon writing up this morning's session with Tyler and planning strategies for the future. It wasn't until later that I got to the reconciliation request.”

It was marked urgent.

“Yes, which is why I plan to spend part of this evening writing a response. Assuming I can work through a possible issue it throws up.”


He hurried on before she changed her mind. “I've no problem being in the room as Tyler's supporter. However, after reading his account closely, I think I may know the victim. It's also probable I'll know anyone he brings with him to some degree.”

Ah. OK – your role as supporter doesn't involve you actively in the process. And it's not an official restorative justice thing–

“I can't imagine the facilitator is going to be thrilled.”

We'll see. The facilitator will weigh the pros and cons. Both sides are informed of who's going to be in the room. If the victim objects, you're out. Otherwise, it's probably better you're there. Fuck knows, that young man doesn't have many people in his corner.

“True.” Rob grimaced at the prospect of Eric seeing him on the opposite side of the table.

You've been successful in making a connection.

Rob pictured that morning. Tyler Jackson almost literally rolling on the ground in laughter at his description of walking football – the alternative, slo-mo version of the sport he took part in.

And Tyler has mostly attended school since term started. He's missed a day here and there.

At the start of the month, he shared his own patchy attendance at school. Not sure of who he was, hanging around the fringes of the West Midlands' gang scene, and convinced academic subjects weren't for him, he'd only been pulled back by an observant Head of Year. To Rob's surprise, the guy had sat and listened, adding his comments only when Rob had talked himself out.

“Yeah, Tyler mentioned it this morning. So, should I wait to hear from you?”

Add your voice to the discussion – that's not the issue. We'll let you know about your participation in due course. Don't forget the victim has yet to receive the reconciliation proposal, let alone respond to it. They are free to refuse.

Would Eric turn it down? Rob grimaced. He had no idea. “I'll continue to mull it over, pending any decision.”

That seems the best course. Now, can I get back to my cooking?

“Of course. Thanks for your time.”

Mid-morning on Wednesday, Eric got off the bus at his usual stop. He paused on the pavement to smooth everything down. Why had he let Andy persuade him to wear the damn party clothes again? He knew the too-dry white shirt was creased, despite his best efforts with the heavy iron. Abandoning the shirt, one hand fussed with his blue checked jacket, paying special attention to where he'd sat on the material.

People jostled and swerved past him, keen to get about their business or board the bus he'd just left. Eric shuffled sideways, making final adjustments huddled in a double-fronted shop entrance. Was everyone looking at him? Laughing? Chattering to their friends and workmates.

With difficulty, Eric soothed the swirl of thoughts in his head. He scowled. It was definitely all Andy's fault. During that morning's chat, he'd mentioned what the clothes meant to him. How they made him feel. Too smart, too dressy… the scarecrow comparison jumped out at him every time he saw the clothes in his wardrobe. He didn't want those emotions to linger and ruin his chances of enjoying the lads' wedding reception.

Andy's solution was the reason he'd travelled in on the bus looking like a job interview candidate. Now all he had to do was cross the road, visit his usual cafe, and let Brian Metcalfe shower him with praise. That was the idea. It was more likely Brian would howl with laughter.

He shrugged and muttered under his breath, “I'm here now. Might as well get it over with.” And if that wasn't enough, he had a trip to Hereford, phone buying, to follow.

With a grunt, he launched himself across the road, scarcely waiting for the pedestrian crossing lights to turn red. Avoiding the potholes, filled by heavy overnight rain, required concentration. One turn-up was already spotted with mud.

The tip of his walking stick clunked on the cobbles, slick with moisture. Passing the pub, Eric came to a halt. Would Brian treat him as a joke? There was only one way to find out.

Brian leant against one of the chilled display cabinets and yawned. This was not a morning when the eleven o'clock lull was to be welcomed. He yawned again, mouth wider this time. In ten minutes, Mrs Phillips would be in for her plain scone and milky tea. Then the two blokes from farther down the lane would arrive for their early lunch. At least their order varied from day to day. Brian sighed. There were some days when it felt as though his customers rolled off a conveyor belt. The next yawn was snuffed out by one sleeve.

Sandra pushed past with that day's soup supply. “Maybe you should give up eating baltis.”

“What?” Brian stared.

“You heard. Did you know the older you are, the more your digestive system loses its ability to deal with heavily spiced food?”

“Rubbish. The Taj Mahal serves a great chicken balti.”

“I'm not doubting the quality of their food. Does it give you indigestion is the question.”

The front door bell tinkled.

“Course it doesn't.”

His wife picked up the empty thermal flasks. “OK. It's curious your restless nights coincide with the Morris evenings out.”

“They don't.” Brian frowned. His reply had been automatic. Was there a correlation?

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a smartly dressed bloke standing at the counter. Brian turned, mind still on the balti question. “Morning. What would you like?”

Silence followed.

Autopilot engaged. “Our drinks menu is on the board behind me. Here's the food menu.” He held one out. “Or you can select from what's here. The soup today is chunky tomato and basil. If you'd like, I can come to your table to take the order. Give you a couple of minutes to make your selection.”

The customer coughed. “Brian?”

Brian blinked and focused on the man in front of him. “Good god! Eric?” His mouth opened. “Blimey. You look the proper man-about-town. Really smart.”

Eric raised an eyebrow.

“I'm serious.” He turned to yell up the stairs. “Sandra! Can you spare a second?”

“Don't make such a fuss.” Eric's cheeks were a little pink.

“This is worth a fuss.” He took a step back, gaze still fixed on the outfit. “Did you choose or someone else?”

His wife elbowed him in passing. “Take no notice, Mr Whitehouse.”

“What did I do?”

Sandra smirked at him before turning her attention to Eric. “Those blues suit you, Mr Whitehouse. That jacket's eye-catching. Not loud or anything, but different. Great selection.” She paused, one finger balancing her chin. “Brian – you remember that tie you got given a couple of Christmasses ago?”

“Err.” Brian blinked. “Tie. Ehm, no – not yet.” Eric stared at him, puzzled. “Let's get you a drink while I let the other thing stew. Usual?”

“Yes, please. And a–” One of Eric's hands moved to scratch the back of his neck under the collar.

Brian noted the shirt didn't look well pressed.

“And a cherry scone.”

“New line. Been pretty popular.” He turned to grab a side plate and froze. “God – yes, I remember that tie. One of the nephews bought it.” Sandra raised both eyebrows. Brian nodded vigorously. “Great idea.”

Eric frowned. “What's a great idea?”

He smirked.

“You'll see,” his wife called before she ran upstairs.

A glow warmed Eric. It had nothing to do with the cup of tea or the half-eaten scone. Daft, really, that a few words of praise should have such an effect. His eyes prickled. He rubbed them vigorously before taking a bite of the scone. Swallowing required a gulp of tea as the lump in his throat seemed twice its usual size.

Brian was busy serving two blokes at the counter. He spared the time to duck into the doorway behind to yell, “What's keeping you, love?”

Fussing again. Eric couldn't help listening hard for the response though.

Sounds of footsteps echoed dully overhead. Calling down, Sandra sounded exasperated. “It'd be a damn sight easier if I knew where you'd hidden it.”

“Oh. Err.” Brian scratched one eyebrow before getting back to serving his customers.

At his table, Eric smiled and drank more tea. It was almost like watching a soap.

Once the blokes left, Brian wiped the counter down and fiddled with the various pots and dishes in the cold display. Mid-shuffle, he turned and leaned into the doorway which led to their flat. “Sandra? You tried the dresser in the spare bedroom?”

Eric couldn't hear any response, but moments later, footsteps clattered down the stairs.

Brian's wife looked a little flushed. “Got it!”

She and her husband hurried over to Eric's table. Eric blinked, not quite sure what to expect.

Sandra held out a roll of textured pale lemon yellow material. “That's real silk.”

Gingerly, Eric took the rolled-up tie. It bore a pattern of stylised blue and white daisies. Studying it, he realised the blue was the same shade as his jacket. “You can't lend me this.”

Brian dropped into the seat opposite. “We're not lending it; we're giving you this tie.”

“What?” Eric stared first at the man, then at the tie. “I can't accept that.”

Sandra placed a hand on Brian's shoulder. “I'll watch things for a few minutes.”

Brian squeezed her hand, giving his wife such an affectionate smile that it made Eric's stomach lurch. “Thanks, love. We shan't be long.”

He turned back to Eric. “Can you really see me wearing that? I'd look a complete idiot.”

Eric let out a snort. “And what? Because I'm a gay man, I can wear whatever I want?”

Colour washed over the other man's face. “No, that wasn't what I meant at all.”

There was a pause. Eric chewed his lip briefly. “I know. Sorry, my emotions are on edge. They have been for a while.”

Brian studied him for a moment. “Sandra and I think the colours are just right for what you're wearing. And of course, there's the flowers. Look–” He took back the tie and unfurled it. “Try it on. If you don't like it, fine. If you do, I'd love to give to you.”

“Why?” The question circled round in Eric's head.

There came a shrug. “Why not? We're friends – least, I think so – and the wretched thing's been lurking in a drawer ever since I unwrapped it. Even I can see it's something special.”

Cautiously, he reached out for the trail of silk. Unsteady hands grasped the tie and after a few seconds, proceeded to make a fumbling mess of the knot.

Brian sat back. “Wow. Especially for a wedding. That yellow lifts everything.”

Eric peered down, trying to see for himself.

“Oh, err. Take this.” Brian held out his phone.

As he took it, his own face appeared on the screen. “Blimey.” Eric manoeuvred the phone farther away until the shot included his chest with the crinkled shirt and Brian's tie.

“Like it?”

Eric stared. Did he? “I do, but–”

“You'll be doing me a favour. One less thing cluttering the place up.”

The yellow was bright, happy, and there were indeed flowers.

“Just make sure you get included in the photos. Yeah?” Brian smirked. “I'd love to have a memento of you wearing that tie.”

Eric nodded, not trusting his voice.

His friend reclaimed his phone and stood up. “Better get back. It's nearly lunchtime.” He bent towards Eric. “And you do look great.”

Rob walked up and down what passed for his lawn, listening to a dial tone ringing out. This was the third time in the past hour. With a growl of frustration, he killed the call. How did anyone manage to contact Eric Whitehouse? He was the only guy Rob knew to rely solely on a landline. The wretched thing didn't even have an answering service. Pocketing the phone, Rob strode back into the house. It would have to be email. Now he'd got himself into the right headspace, it was time to make contact, to explain, if not actually apologise, and see where things went from there.

He settled himself on the sofa, opened the laptop and started to type.

If you haven't realised, the remaining chapters of Eric's story will post every 2 weeks. Tap the story discussion banner for more info.

I welcome each and every comment. If you'd like to recommend the story, use the buttons on the story's front page.

Copyright © 2021 northie; All Rights Reserved.
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Parker Owens has accompanied me throughout the writing of this story. He has my heartfelt thanks.

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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Story Discussion Topic

This started out in late 2016 as my first attempt at a multi-part story. I remember pestering @Parker Owens for his agreement for me to start posting after I'd produced ... four chapters or thereabouts.   His wise counsel prevailed, and I've spent a long time both completing this part, and refining the writing so it comes up to my current standards.   The reception of the first two chapters has been such that I've ventured to start this story topic.   Feel free to discuss or
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Chapter Comments

I'm glad we are getting to know Rob a little better and that Eric is transforming. I'm hoping that as his mind becomes more active, positive and forward thinking, his physical being will likewise transform - we know he can't be young again, but more confidence and losing the stick will bring 9ut the man that remained hidden for decades. 

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Ha, ha, I nearly spit out my tea over the keyboard when Brian didn't recognize Eric. The tie was a great idea. 

Rob is clever when he uses his brain rather than other parts of his anatomy. But when he combines them, he's actually quite hot. Wouldn't mind meeting a guy like him, and he's more or less my age too.

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I think going out to meet Andy dressed in the suit was a good idea, it had some positive reinforcing feedback from Brian and Sandra. I agree that he needs a cell phone!

As I get to know Rob, I'm less and less impressed with him. He's becoming a bit of a stereotypical cliche'  to me, he seems all over the place, and I think that his 'occasional' drinking is leading to bad decisions. It almost seems as if he is chasing his long distanced past. 

He is lacking in his work with Tyler, at times it seems to be an afterthought (unfocused because of his drinking?)...hence the late report and phone call. I will give him credit for acknowledging he 'thinks' he knows the person who's yard was trashed and house spray painted. 

Looking forward to the next chapter...

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5 hours ago, Doha said:

I'm glad we are getting to know Rob a little better and that Eric is transforming.

Yes, we're seeing more of who Rob is. Eric has been changing all the way through this story really. Small steps; sometimes, larger ones.

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5 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

Ha, ha, I nearly spit out my tea over the keyboard when Brian didn't recognize Eric.

😄 It's easy enough when your mind's elsewhere not to see what's in front of you.

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2 hours ago, drsawzall said:

As I get to know Rob, I'm less and less impressed with him.

I beg to disagree. Rob is fairly typical of one sort of gay man of his age. Some will be married, others not. Some will be playing the hook-up game. others, not. Being somewhere new was an excuse to hook up. He doesn't in Herefordshire, partly because there isn't any scene to speak of. As a volunteer, he doesn't get paid for the mentoring work he does. He may not be perfect but he does take his work (paid or otherwise) seriously.

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I know I have said a hundred times how much I love my "favorite curmudgeon." And how much I enjoy Andy and Adam. I don't know that I have said much about Brian and Sandra. They are more of the supporting characters you have written so well! They are not two dimensional, but well rounded, developed characters. And I love how they have become a part of Eric's life, and the way they support him! Thanks. 

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13 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

I know I have said a hundred times how much I love my "favorite curmudgeon."

❤ You and me both. Plus a few other people as well. 🤨😄 Whatever else I write, Eric (and the other characters) will occupy a special place in my heart.

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A slightly eye-opening comment from my usual email commenter:


I’m beginning to think that for Eric, Rob would be best left as a fond memory from the past. He may have been an object of lust for all those years, but he’s proving to be less than the best boyfriend material. Where Eric has suppressed his erotic impulses, Rob lets his penis rule his life too much. The two are both emotionally stunted, but in very different ways. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the world to bridge that gap…


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Just now, northie said:

I’m beginning to think that for Eric, Rob would be best left as a fond memory from the past.

I don't think that's fair. Yes, Eric recalled Rob well after such a long gap (don't forget he couldn't name Rob for quite a while after he spotted the other man Leominster) but I don't think he 'lusted' after him. Yearning or a need for a connection with someone like him is more like it. Rob wasn't introduced into the story as a love interest. I know a number of readers have wished for that but it's not my intention.

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Another less-contentious offering:


With Eric beginning to understand what new and better-chosen clothes mean for his life, maybe he can slowly acquire a new wardrobe. There are all sorts of sartorial choices that wouldn’t require an iron and fussy handling. 


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Just now, northie said:

With Eric beginning to understand what new and better-chosen clothes mean for his life, maybe he can slowly acquire a new wardrobe.

Clothes maketh the man?  I don't imagine Eric will be spending the same amount he spent on the jacket etc very often. But yes, being out in the world more has changed his perspective on clothes.

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@northieanother engaging chapter in this delightful tale of a very ordinary man and the impact he has had in the lives of others.

I don't see why Eric has to be "coupled" with anyone, least of all, the totally unsuitable (for him) Rob. I like Eric just the way he is (mostly), so thank you for resisting the urge to modify his behaviour to make him more appealing to all. His life may not have been the happiest and most exciting, but there is no guarantee that had he been in a relationship it would have been any better. One only has to look at the lives of his parents, and of Felicity and Oliver, to realise that a being in a relationship does not always equate with happiness and fulfilment. 

Unlike a number of my fellow readers, I admire Eric's refusal to 'conform' and have a mobile phone. I am significantly younger than Eric and held out having one until I had to get one to be able to work from home. I have no patience with those who seem to think that one must not only be contactable immediately, but also at all times. Some of us like our solitude, and neither need nor desire constant interaction with our fellow humans to feel validated and successful. I also don't need a fucking app to be able to navigate my way through what are the important things, to me, in life.

Edited by Summerabbacat
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6 hours ago, Summerabbacat said:

this delightful tale of a very ordinary man and the impact he has had in the lives of others.

Thank you for this description. I love the way the second half turns things around.

6 hours ago, Summerabbacat said:

I don't see why Eric has to be "coupled" with anyone, least of all, the totally unsuitable (for him) Rob.

True. The Romance category for this story is more to do with Andy and Adam (everything else is Drama). But I think readers hope for a Hallmark ending. Mine tend to be rather more open-ended. 🤨😄

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