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    northie
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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 - 26. Seat At The Table

Important conversations...

Eric lay in bed listening to rain pounding down on the cottage's tiled roof. Grey light crept round the dingy, yet aggressively floral, curtains. He lacked the energy to start his day. A swirl of air hurled more rain against the window, rattling its casement. What had happened to the previous weekend's glorious weather?

The bedroom's dim, monochrome flatness suited his mood. Eric squirmed under the sheets until he found a more comfortable position. The mattress lurched and complained. It needed replacing, as did the bloody awful curtains. He scowled. Twenty-five quid a week from the Standishes would only stretch so far. It had sounded like riches. He paused, reminding himself there would hopefully be a number of weeks when he'd earn more. 

Another gust rippled the curtains. They were a hangover from when he'd first moved in, not that they'd been new then. Why hadn't he ever considered replacing them before? Money had always been a problem, but he knew other people managed to make changes on a tight budget. Eric let out a sigh. It was just one example of how he drifted through life. Even as a teenager, he'd stood apart, not getting involved, watching events from the sidelines. 

A memory hijacked his train of thought. One more that had remained submerged for decades. A lad in his year, tall, sporty, apparently popular, who resorted to using his fists on the football pitch over a minor disagreement. Eric, lurking away from the crowd, had seen barely controlled fury contort the boy's face. Delving deeper into the recollection, Eric thought the youth – name forgotten – subsequently got into trouble with the police. Underage drinking, disorderly conduct, and possibly, assault had featured. 

A faint echo of a much later newspaper headline and photo followed. Eric shifted in bed. A suicide followed by the discovery of historic abuse? However hard he tried to grab hold of the memory, it slipped out of reach. Turning, he peered at the clock. Nine-thirty was no time to be still in bed.

Downstairs, the phone rang. Not the chirping of his new infuriating, self-satisfied gadget – that had been turned off halfway through the previous evening – but the normal phone, the one he knew how to answer. With a shrug, Eric swung his legs out of bed. The day was starting, whether he wanted it to or not.


Mind only half on the display of labelled tea caddies he was admiring, Andy stood in the small specialist shop and listened to his call failing to connect. With a sigh, he tapped the screen and put the phone away. His chinos were damp in patches where a squall had caught him. Fortunately, he'd found on-street parking not far away so he wasn't dripping onto the wooden floor, unlike the shop's only other customer, a middle-aged woman dressed with little regard to the weather.

Ostensibly still weighing his tea choices, Andy shook his head. Eric now possessed two phones. If that fact meant it should've been easier to contact his friend, Andy had yet to experience any benefit. Two texts and two calls to the new mobile and now one call to his landline had all gone unanswered. There was nothing urgent. Decisions had to be made about the reconciliation proposal. Plus, Andy winced, if Eric agreed, the question of Rob's presence would have to be explored. 

A knowing smile crossed Andy's lips. Missed texts and phone calls were nothing to be worried about. He imagined the older man turning off his hated gadget as soon as it was no longer wanted and not turning it on again, possibly for days at a time. Eric would only join the twenty-first century on his own terms. Andy returned his attention to the shelves, ticking off items on a mental list. Once he'd made his purchases, he'd try again.

The shop's owner, a bookish looking man in his fifties, finished serving the other customer. After the usual parting comments, Andy heard the other man's footsteps approach from the sales counter. He turned.

“Morning, Mr Harper. Restocking?” A pleasant smile followed.

Andy rolled his eyes. “I don't know how we get through it all so quickly.”

“No complaints here.”

“And it beats getting pre-packaged tea from the supermarket.”

The owner shrugged. “Not everyone agrees. There's enough room for both of us.” He brightened. “Have you decided?”

“Yes.” Andy took a moment. “OK. One hundred and fifty grammes of gunpowder. Same of lapsang souchong.” He continued down the list, watching the guy take packets and caddies to the sales counter. 

A row of dark blue, sealed packages quickly grew by the till. The guy looked up. “Is that all?”

“Not quite.” Andy indicated the packages. “I'll pay for those in one transaction but I'd also like a quantity of your best Darjeeling.”

“We've a wonderful first flush tea from one of the premier single estates. Highly recommended. Is it for a special occasion?”

“Yeah.” Andy wondered if he'd ever cease blushing when making reference to his marriage. “I'd like something to take with us on our honeymoon.”

“Of course. Congratulations. I saw the article in Herefordshire Life. You and your husband-to-be looked very happy.”

His cheeks burned. “Thank you. My fiancé's a tea nerd, so the Darjeeling appeals as a small surprise.” The cost would come out of his own account. 

The owner looked briefly wistful before pasting a more neutral expression on his face. Andy watched him as they strolled towards the sales counter. The expression might've been the regret of anyone involuntarily single. Andy suspected an added queer angle. Some of his friends would regard those thoughts as stereotyping of the worst cis-het sort. The guy's mannerisms, the way he held himself both pinged Andy's gaydar. It was another reminder of the countryside's queerness. More spread out and hidden than in metropolitan areas but there nevertheless. 

And how lucky he and Adam were.


Andy bent over Eric's new phone, fiddling with text sizes again. The older man fidgeted in the other chair, crossing and recrossing his legs. Andy looked up.

Eric cleared his throat. “Err… before we get stuck into the other thing–”

The reconciliation proposal, Andy assumed.

“I want to ask you something about your wedding.”

“Hmm?” He eyed Eric, wondering where the question might lead to. 

“Yes.” The other man sat up straighter. “I want to get you both a present. A nice present.”

Andy let out a breath he hadn't been aware of holding. “Thank you. A present isn't necessary though. Not at our wedding at least.”

An expression of mingled annoyance and frustration settled on Eric's face.

“It's sweet of you,” Andy hurried on. “We'll gladly accept whatever you give us.”

One eyebrow lifted opposite. “I'm not about to get you a toaster. That kitchen of yours doesn't need a single thing from what I recall.”

Andy flushed slightly. Eric's time as their enforced houseguest had been an interesting experience all round.

“No,” Eric continued. “I'd like to get you both a new table for outside. Something from Rob Bairstow – a one-off.”

“Wow.” Excitement came up against worry. Rob might not get any order when Eric knew of Rob's involvement in the proposed meeting with Tyler Jackson. He hesitated. “I, we, wouldn't want you to spend a small fortune on us.”

“That's my business.”

“Yes, but –” The glare stopped his protest. He grinned. Eric could be stubborn when he put his mind to it. “Shall we see what Rob has to offer?”

While Eric sat at the elderly desk, Andy perched awkwardly on the arm of the chair Eric had vacated. The older man slowly navigated to Rob Bairstow's site, checking and re-checking the business card in his other hand. The punning web address, robinwood, made Andy roll his eyes. Yes, it was memorable, a must in any marketing, but even so.

Together, they skimmed through Rob's staple offerings. There were a surprising number, though part of that came from the same design being made in different woods. Andy spotted a couple of possibilities – solid, well-designed pieces in teak. They didn't grab him or make his heart flutter. He pointed them out to Eric who scribbled on the back of a supermarket receipt with a pencil stub.

“Not using your new phone to take down the details?”

Eric swivelled his head around as far as he could. “What?”

“Record a voice memo, or–” He made sure Eric saw the smile. “Write yourself a note. There's a special app.”

The other man stared at him. He brandished the yellowing receipt. “Thirty seconds.” His gaze moved to the abandoned phone. “God only knows how long.”

They both laughed.

Andy shrugged. “Only a suggestion.”

Eric turned back to the screen, the set of his shoulders giving Andy his reply. Getting to the final products, the older man took the mouse as if preparing to scroll back up the list. 

“Hang on.” Andy leaned closer. “Rob's on Insta. Let's have a look.”

“A translation would be appreciated.”

Andy half hid a grin before pointing to the camera icon. “It's a social media site built on images.”

They trawled through photos, most of which showed items from Rob's standard catalogue out in the wild. Nothing sparked real excitement. Andy swallowed a sigh. Of course, he could go away and think. He got the feeling Eric wanted to get onto it now. Given the wedding was less than four weeks away, that made sense. 

“Eric, type in a search for bespoke garden furniture.”

Muffled swearing followed, the cursor moving back and forth as Eric struggled to find the right spellings. A much wider selection of images loaded. 

Only a few images in, Andy sat up. “That's it! That's what I'd like.” He corrected himself. “What Adam and I would both like.” 

Eric blinked. “What?”

“There.” He leaned on the back of Eric's chair, finger pointing. The image showed a pair of tables shaped like two quadrants cut out of a circle. Within the outer frame, wooden slats made each table look like a half-open fan. “They're gorgeous.”

The other man gave a small nod. 

“Maybe using reclaimed wood?” Andy's mind raced. “And the slats could be stained rainbow colours. Rob'll have to start a Pride collection. In fact, Adam and I will commission a seat separately. Something long and curved like in those photos. That'll definitely take all the Pride colours – trans, diversity and all.”

Eric was scrabbling behind the laptop, presumably looking for more paper.

Andy touched him on the shoulder. “Don't panic. Look, why don't I take a screenshot, talk it over with Adam, and give you the details of what we'd like. If Rob agrees, get a quote for the tables.” He paused. “Pay as much as you want to.” He shrugged. “Hell, Rob might reduce his rates.”

Eric interrupted. “The Standishes want to contribute.”

“Do they?” Andy moved to stand by the desk. “Wow. Well, whatever's left to pay, we'll cover.” He held up a hand to forestall any objections. “I love you want to get us a present. Two commissioned tables aren't going to be cheap. I don't want you living off a sardine a day–”

“Can't stand the things.”

“You know what I mean.” A smile softened a shake of his head. “When other people have asked, we've suggested making a donation to one or more queer charities or campaigning groups. As you say, we don't really need the usual wedding list shit. A useful side effect is we'll have no idea how much anyone has donated. Some of our other friends aren't exactly rich.” He looked straight at the other man. “Please allow us to pay the outstanding balance.”

Eric nodded. “I've moved away from those times when a cheese sandwich was the culinary highlight of my day.”

“Good thing too.” Andy used his phone to take a screenshot of the tables. “Right, all that decision-making merits tea.” He wanted the few minutes to get his head in order. The next topic wasn't going to be anything like as easy. And there was still the possibility Rob wouldn't get any order from Eric at all.


Andy shuffled the papers balanced on his knees. Another heap lurked beside the other armchair, down by Eric's feet. Two empty tea mugs completed the picture. “OK – you're sure the answer's 'yes'?”

A nod followed.

“I'll let everyone know. I imagine they'll want to get things in motion soon as.” Or not. Andy played with the sheets, flicking edges, treating them like a pack of cards he was about to shuffle. “There's one more thing.”

Eric looked at him, wariness flickering across his expression. “What d'you want me to buy now? That phone'll be the death of me.”

A bark of laughter escaped. “Nothing. You're safe.” He paused. “No, it's to do with the meeting.” Another hesitation. “The young man's supporter is Rob Bairstow. Rob told me a few days ago.”

The other man's face paled. Part shock, part anger, Andy thought, but Eric said nothing. Andy opened his mouth again. “In a way, Rob's like me. He wants to give back to society, only for him, it's through work with disadvantaged youth. The county council's social services pairs him up with a teen. He acts as a mentor, giving them a safe space to vent, to be themselves, to learn how to take responsibility. I imagine these individuals often come from difficult – chaotic is the preferred term, I think – backgrounds.”

Eric let out a long breath. “I won't pretend it doesn't feel something like a betrayal. Which is daft because I scarcely knew Rob when the vandalism happened.” He appeared to turn in on himself for a moment. “This morning, I thought of someone in my class at school for the first time in ages. That lad would've benefited from someone like Rob.” He shrugged. “Maybe I would've.”

“I know my school life would've been better with that sort of support.” Andy smiled wryly. “Not that I was out of control or anti-social – it would've helped me be me. Less moping, fewer feelings of isolation, more confidence. It wasn't that long after Section 28 had been repealed and Gloucestershire wasn't Haringey, Islington or some other London borough.”

“And there's me thinking you two have led gilded lives.”

Andy shrugged. “Better than a lot of people's. You included. I came through pretty much unscathed.  Adam–” He grimaced. “Let's just say there're reasons he's passionate about queer advocacy.” 

Eric's face had regained some of its colour though he still looked pensive.

“Eric, you can object to Rob's presence. It's your right and no questions asked.”

The older man stirred. He got out the chair slowly, picking up his mug as he did so. Taking Andy's in addition, he walked through to the kitchen and took his time rinsing both mugs out. 

“You OK?” Andy peered over his shoulder. 

Two clinks announced the mugs being left to drain. Eric turned and moved back to his seat, face still closed off. “I don't like the prospect of this meeting one bit.” His brow furrowed. “I like even less the thought of making an idiot of myself in front of two people I know.”

Andy frowned. “Making an idiot of yourself?”

“Getting my words in a mess. Forgetting what I'm meant to do next.”

“Eric, I'm sure the meeting'll be stressful. Everyone will be focused on getting the best result possible.” He leaned forward. “Most individuals attending a reconciliation meeting won't feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience. Substance is the most important element. Is the apology sincere? Have your questions been answered?” He let a pause open up. “How d'you feel about Rob being there?”

“Dunno.” Eric shrugged. “I'm visiting him this Friday. Another thing to talk about.”

“You OK after the house-warming now?”

A wry smile appeared briefly. “We need to make our apologies again, in person this time. I think we're OK. On that front, anyway.”

Andy stood up, he needed to get the paperwork done. “Follow my hard-learnt lessons: listen without prejudice and empathise.”

“I'll try.”


On Friday, Eric sat under the blackened beams of Rob Bairstow's house and looked out onto the street. No net curtains. It gave Eric the feel of being in an Agatha Christie novel nonetheless. Rob clattered in the galley kitchen, preparing some pasta dish or another for lunch. It was easier not to talk until they both sat at the table together.

Their greetings had been warm – smiles and plenty of meaningless small talk. Rob kept looking at him over his glasses, as if expecting an outburst. He himself didn't quite know what to make of the visit so far. A lot of water had passed under that particular bridge since last time, much of it not smooth. In his jacket pocket, he toyed with the roll of textured, pale yellow silk. That was the result of a hint from Andy. An icebreaker, he'd called it. A pleasant way to open their chat before things got grittier.

“Food's here.” Rob bustled in, balancing two plates piled with pasta in some kind of creamy sauce. “Carbonara with added peas, cos I like the sweetness.”

Eric inhaled the rich aroma of ham. His mouth watered. Before they got settled to eating though, he produced the tie. 

“What's this?” Rob eyed the roll of fabric. “Love the colour.”

Eric unrolled the tie, carefully avoiding the plates.

“Wow. Gorgeous patterning. I know a couple of guys in Brum who'd kill for that.”

He flushed a little. “A friend gave it to me. It's to go with the stuff–” You made me buy, Eric nearly continued. That was unfair. “The stuff I'm going to wear to lads' wedding.”

“Great choice.” Rob poked his pasta with a fork. “I never did say how fabulous you looked at the Standish's house-warming.”

“Rubbish.” Eric wielded his own cutlery, trying to cut long strands of pasta with his knife. “I've never been fabulous in my life.”

“Nope. The truth.” Rob moved the tie to the other end of the table before digging in. He chewed on the generous forkful and swallowed before continuing. “Let's get the rest said as well. I was a shit awful plus one, ignoring you for large swathes of the party. Sorry. I got caught up with the whole vibe.”

Eric smiled to himself. They'd already been down this path but it didn't hurt to do so again. “Andy and I have talked. I've had more memories ambush me over the past few weeks than during the rest of my life.”

“Tell me about it.” Rob grimaced. “Looking for that damn photo album in the attic stirred up quite enough of the past for me.”

Popping peas between his back teeth, Eric raised an eyebrow.

“My marriage.”

He flushed. “Sorry. Forgot.”

The other man looked straight back at him. “It's history. Doesn't change who I am now.”

Eric's heart sped up. It was time. He swallowed against a suddenly dry mouth. “Err… I… ehm, I judged you at the party against my own views. Or in fact, against my parents' views. I've only recently realised that's what it is. It doesn't colour everything, but–”

Rob's eyebrow quirked. “An out-and-proud gay man with an active sex life spouting about his conquests like a fucking idiot?”

One of peas got stuck. Eric coughed. “Yes, that got me going. Sorry.”

“I'd drunk too many glasses of that bloody cider. Anyway–” Rob pushed his mostly empty plate away. “Are we done with the apologies?” A small smile took off the question's edges.

Eric's shoulders relaxed a little. “Yes, I think so.” Except, there was still the other thing, the new thing. 

He made sure to clear his plate. Staring down at the smeared surface, Eric heard himself speak. “Andy tells me you're part of my reconciliation meeting. I wasn't expecting that.” Muscles tensed. “It feels as though you're on the opposing side. Why are you supporting a hooligan who vandalised my home and garden?” Heat flushed his face. “Why?” Only when he finished did he look up.

Rob was watching him. “Eric, I understand where you're coming from. The fact I'm going to be in the room with Tyler doesn't mean I approve of what he did. I don't – far from it. He's going to be there to give a meaningful apology and answer any questions you may have. I'm one of a team of people who are striving to keep that lad out of more trouble. Tyler has the chance of a normal life. We should all hope he grabs that chance with both hands.”

Eric thought again of the now anonymous fellow pupil. How different would his own life have been with someone to guide him, to shine a light on parts of his life which had continued in shadow? Regret and disappointment and something akin to frustration churned in his stomach.

Something must've shown on his face because Rob reached over and took one of his hands. “Eric, it's OK to have regrets. Hell, all of us have them, I think. Where were you a year ago? Hasn't your life changed for the better? Yes, it's late in your life. You don't regret it's happened though, do you?”

Eric shook his head vigorously. His life had been transformed beyond his wildest dreams.

“We're trying to do the same for Tyler. So he can look back on a life well lived. Hopefully.” Rob shrugged. “No guarantees. All we can do is persuade him to take the right direction. This reconciliation meeting is one step along the way.”

Shuffling in his seat, Eric tried to restrain the turmoil in his guts. Yes, it made sense – even he could see that – but it was so unfair. Why should so much attention be lavished on some wastrel while he, who'd never put a foot out of line, had been left to flounder his way through life. A voice in the back of his mind pointed out that young offenders in the 1960s and 70s were most likely sent straight to reform schools or whatever they called the wretched institutions. No sympathy, no helping hand, and definitely no guidance on sex and gender. 

He forced a smile. “I see what you're getting at. It still sticks in my throat.”

Rob squeezed his hand. “That's understandable as well. Restorative justice gets laughed at. Trying to help kids towards a better life is somehow reprehensible. All I ask, Eric, is that you give it a chance. Give Tyler a chance.”

Eric swallowed hard. “I will.”


After a minute or two, Eric managed to think of other things. The wedding present, for example. He blinked. “Rob, I need to talk to you about a commission.”

The other man had been looking out of the window. He started. “Commission? Oh, of course–” A roll of his eyes followed. “The wedding present. Have you discussed it with the happy couple?”

The emphasis on the final two words puzzled him, so he ignored it. “Yes. They want to commission their own table as well.”

Rob's eyes widened. “My lucky day. Let's hear it.”

Eric fished out a couple of folded sheets of paper Andy had printed for him earlier. They included the original images. Just as well. He didn't have that young man's way with words. “This is what they'd like.”

After a moment, the other man gave a nod of appreciation. “Very nice. Very nice indeed.”

Eric's story is drawing to a close. One more chapter after this and an epilogue. 

I welcome your comments - always have, always will. If you wish to recommend the story to others, consider using 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 hope the wedding is included in the final chapter and epilogue. Reconcilation between Eric and the Kid as well. I can't believe it's coming to a close. 

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2 hours ago, Ivor Slipper said:

Just one chapter? There appear  to be a lot of loose ends still to tie up...

A lot? 👀 There are some loose ends, yes, but I wouldn't describe what's left as a lot.

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1 hour ago, James B. said:

I hope the wedding is included in the final chapter and epilogue.

If you were to say the epilogue is the wedding reception, I wouldn't correct you. 😉

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What a long road Eric has walked over the three stories. What great courage he's shown. How alive he is now compared to when this tale started. I wonder if Eric has any idea of the impact and contribution he's made on Andy, Rob, and the others he's come in contact with. I suspect he will help change Tyler's life as well.

I get a kick out of how direct and unfiltered Eric is when he decides to speak. It's one of the gifts of getting older.

Another loose end to tie up in the remaining chapters is Adam's mom.

 

 

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I hope that there will be some change of love for Eric, beyond that of friends. Let's see. 

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How long now before Eric realises that he knows Tyler's mum!? She was his carer before funding was cut or the such like, wasnt she!? That's if I am correct!? Will that then sway his decision on the restorative justice meeting & or anything else?????

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12 hours ago, frosenblum said:

I get a kick out of how direct and unfiltered Eric is when he decides to speak.

Yes. Maybe he's not quite as blunt as he was at the start? There's still the tendency to call a spade a spade. I don't think that will ever change.

12 hours ago, frosenblum said:

Another loose end to tie up in the remaining chapters is Adam's mom.

I largely regard that as being done with the move to Ross on Wye and the start of her new life. It may not be tied off with a bow but it brings her story to a satisfactory conclusion. As for the court case against her husband - justice grinds exceeding slow. In the time frame of the story, knowing he's been charged is as much of a conclusion as is possible.

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12 hours ago, Doha said:

I hope that there will be some change of love for Eric, beyond that of friends. Let's see. 

Maybe it's something you'll have to imagine for yourself?

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4 hours ago, Freemantleman said:

How long now before Eric realises that he knows Tyler's mum!? She was his carer before funding was cut or the such like, wasnt she!?

👀 Now that's one twist I hadn't considered. 🤨😄 I haven't said a huge amount about his former carer but she definitely isn't Tyler's mum. 

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A couple of comments from my email reader:

Quote

If Bookish Tea Guy™ were older, he might have made a good match for Eric as far as personality is concerned. But this is not a romance and Eric isn’t going to end up with a boyfriend. No matter how much matchmaking your readers attempt.  ;–)

And...

Quote

Part of Eric’s problems with speaking to strangers or when feeling pressure is because he doesn’t interact with people very often. He’s out of practice (if he ever were better at it). He hates being outside of his comfort zone because he remembers all of his worst experiences while forgetting (or minimizing) any positive events. It’s easy for me to identify with that – it’s a form of cognitive dissonance! 😉

 

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Its a very difficult thing Eric is doing to agree to Tyler’s restorative justice session. Eric may be taciturn and irascible, but he also has a lot of grit. Let’s hope the session helps Tyler change. 

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12 hours ago, northie said:

👀 Now that's one twist I hadn't considered. 🤨😄 I haven't said a huge amount about his former carer but she definitely isn't Tyler's mum. 

Bugger got that one wrong!? Oh well not the first time n certainly won't be the last time I've crashed n burned !! Roflol 🌈🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

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On 4/23/2022 at 12:08 PM, Parker Owens said:

Eric may be taciturn and irascible, but he also has a lot of grit.

He does. Getting through life on your own requires grit, however that life pans out.

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On 4/23/2022 at 11:49 AM, northie said:

But this is not a romance and Eric isn’t going to end up with a boyfriend.

No, it's a drama with a general romance tag for Andy and Adam. Definitely not Eric.

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On 4/23/2022 at 11:49 AM, northie said:

He’s out of practice (if he ever were better at it).

Yes, I know from my own experience you can lose any facility you possessed for making conversation and generally being sociable. I'm not sure Eric ever was a conversationalist. 🤨

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On 4/23/2022 at 7:34 AM, frosenblum said:

What a long road Eric has walked over the three stories. What great courage he's shown. How alive he is now compared to when this tale started. I wonder if Eric has any idea of the impact and contribution he's made on Andy, Rob, and the others he's come in contact with. I suspect he will help change Tyler's life as well.

I get a kick out of how direct and unfiltered Eric is when he decides to speak. It's one of the gifts of getting older.

@frosenblum I echo your comments regarding the impact Eric has had on the lives of those with whom he has had contact. It is too easy to overlook this, focussing instead on the impact others have had on him. I doubt very much that Andy and Adam in particular have ever met anyone quite like him, and their lives are the richer for having done so. I hope his meeting with Tyler will be mutually beneficial. In some ways they are very much alike I think, living a life of isolation in the "company" of totally alien companions.

Eric's limited filter is the thing I admire most about him. @Parker Owens described him as taciturn and irascible. I believe the former is one of his many qualities, and whilst the latter may make it difficult to engage socially with success, I don't see it as always a negative. 

Another great chapter @northie. I have derived a great deal of pleasure from reading this and the preceding books centred on the life of Eric and Andy. I could not have imagined them forming such a comfortable and enriching friendship from their first meeting. The growth of their friendship has been a joy to witness.

Edited by Summerabbacat
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8 hours ago, Summerabbacat said:

I doubt very much that Andy and Adam in particular have ever met anyone quite like him, and their lives are the richer for having done so.

That's true. I think Eric's had more effect on Andy, simply because they've had more time together. And, you could argue, because Andy's had more of a journey to go on.

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