Jump to content
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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
The action takes place in the near present (pre-2020), with scenes in flashback in italics.

They may not mean to, but they do - 18. Eighteen

Thomas had warned Keith that it might take ages for a decision to be made about the Mounted Figure. Whatever happened, Alison would have to get permission from the school’s Governors or possibly from the Trustees of the charity which now owned the school buildings. The recent refurbishment and extension had involved a series of manoeuvres that had separated school and buildings in order to ensure the survival and integrity of both. It sounded excessively complicated to Keith, but Thomas simply grinned and said welcome to my world.

So, on Wednesday Keith was surprised to find a message from Alison on his phone. He phoned back at the suggested time. She was brisk and business-like on the phone; she wanted a bit more information about the need to replace the transformer, motor, and such. Could Keith get it for her? He agreed he could and then remembered Isobel Bonner and so conveyed the message and Isobel’s phone number. Alison was equally curious and wondered, given Isobel’s apparent interest and family connection, whether she might be willing to support the restoration. Alison sounded almost gleeful when she put the phone down.

And thus, Keith found himself entertaining his former work-mate Nico at the flat. Nico was impressed and his first words on entering were ‘Nice Pad’. Nico was semi-retired, though it was sometimes more semi than others. Originally Greek, he had lived in England for around 40 years. He was a big man, generous in all dimensions with huge hands and sausage-like fingers. Yet Nico could manipulate wire and other electrical components with a dexterity that would have been amazing in a man half his size. He was also virtually always good-tempered.

His retirement hobby had been to continue working on his collection of small, motorised models, making him the go-to man for anything related to old motors and models. Keith showed Nico some images of working sculptures off the web, including an Atkinson similar to the school’s one which was displayed moving. Nico’s response was a non-committal, hmm, and a few technical questions.

By now they had settled down with some wine. Nico was a wine man, not beer, so Keith had popped to the offie on the way home; perhaps he should get a supply in? Keith then got out his photos, and there was much poring, nodding, and grunting. Nico was like that, he might be full of bonhomie in company, but working he gave little away and there was no hurrying him, you had to do things his time.

The original components could be refurbished, in fact, Nico could do it. The cost would be high, and then there was a very long lead time as Nico was completely backed up with work. It turned out that his so-called retirement hobby of tinkering with old, motorised models was turning into a fine business. So, by the end of their session, Keith had an array of options for Alison, with a wide degree of variation in estimated cost and lead time.

They were just finishing the glass of wine, and Nico was making ‘I must be going’ noises, though typically this usually meant he would be around for another half an hour. They had caught up on mutual friends, acquaintances, and enemies; Nico was a great grudge-bearer and loved hearing what his bêtes noires had got up to.

“So, how did you ended up looking at a piece by a 1960s Pop Artist? You working at this school that owns it?”, Keith had given Nico some information but not all.

“Nah”, Keith laughed, “Most of my work now is on posh refurbishments and things. Like this.” He gestured at the flat.

Nico smiled, “Tasty. So?”

“The school shares its premises with three charities who rent space. My boyfriend runs one of them and is sort of mates with the Headmistress of the school. She’s the sort that likes getting things done but hasn’t got the budget for bringing a proper restoration firm in. So, the first step was for me to take a look, at least I’m a qualified electrician and could assess what did and didn’t work.”

Keith was going to fill a bit in more of the story, but Nico held up a hand, “Hold on there. Wind back a bit. Did you say boyfriend?” Keith nodded, “Well not so long ago, I remember you being pissed off when your girlfriend left, you decided to go gay in revenge?”

Keith laughed, it was impossible to be offended by Nico, or at least if you were then you’d be offended all the time. “No, I just.” Keith paused.

“Hey, if this is difficult, I’m sorry, I don’t want to pry or anything.”

“No, I’m cool, just trying to work out whether to do the long or the short version.”

Nico smiled, “Try the short one first.”

“I did things with boys and men as a kid and Dad tried to beat it out of me”, Nico whistled. “I managed to pretend for a long time, even to myself. But it crept back; things started to happen. I met Thomas by accident, and we just clicked. He’s ….” Keith clammed up, and simply went bright red. He’d learned to say that Thomas was his boyfriend, but to come out and say he was wonderful was something else. But Nico seemed to understand, and they parted with well-meaning plans to meet up soon.

The next morning, Keith phoned Alison early (as requested) and passed on the information. He also informed her that if she wanted a formal quote, it might take weeks as Nico was rubbish at paperwork. But when it came to models and small motors, he knew his stuff.

-oOo-oOo-

Football with the boys proved highly enjoyable that week. Not only wasn’t it rained off, but they had a good crowd and a couple of lively matches. This meant that conversation in the pub afterwards was pretty lively too, with plenty of good-natured joshing about faulty passes and missed opportunities. Eventually, Jan asked him what he’d been up to at the weekend, and he mentioned staying with Thomas’ brother who was a vicar. That did raise a few eyebrows.

“They know about you and him?” Keith nodded.

“And is his brother cool with it, being a vicar and all that?”

“Isn’t that sort of thing forbidden?”

A dirty laugh, “Along with a lot else besides, but folk get up to all sorts, anyroad.”

“Bit more complicated than that”, surprisingly Hughie was something of an expert and gave a succinct summary.

“Thomas’ brother and his wife seem to be cool. At least, they were friendly.”

“So, it went down OK. For a first visit to your other half’s family?”

“God, I could tell stories about the girlfriend’s family.” Little Joe was quickly sent off for a new round before he could launch into one of his saucier stories.

Jan had been silent and commented that it was important meeting family for the first time. Keith thought there might be more, or perhaps it was just Jan remembering something in his own past. Whatever, the moment passed as Little Joe appeared with more supplies.

For no particular reason other than the habit of telling each other what they’d been doing, Keith started explaining about the Michael Atkinson work, this required a bit of explanation and suffering a degree of good-natured comment, and ribaldry, about the work. But there was a fascination too; the idea that one of their own, a fellow tradesman, would be involved in restoring a work of art, no matter how weird the work and how debatable it might be as a work of art. But Alison also came up for comment, especially when Keith talked about the weekend away.

She a l…, Little Joe clammed up, suddenly aware that the only word he knew was possibly derogatory.

“I think you’ll find the word is Lesbian”, there were grins all round at Hughie’s intervention, but it was a trap they were all trying not to fall into. On a lively night out, the chance of getting away with an evening without the use of the word faggot, queer, fairy or poofter was difficult. The irony was that it affected Keith’s mates more than him, he was aware that whatever the liveliness of their language, they had his back when it was most important.

Copyright © 2024 Robert Hugill; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 18
  • Love 21
  • Haha 1
This is one of my earliest stories and I remain rather fond of Keith and Thomas. There are something over 30 chapters to share; as ever, I am always delighted to hear from readers with comments and suggestions.
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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
You are not currently following this story. Be sure to follow to keep up to date with new chapters.

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

And now that I've caught up I shall have to be patient. 😆 🤣 

  • Like 3
  • Love 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
1 hour ago, Doha said:

What a super chapter. Full of light-hearted fun. Still wondering about Isobel Bonner. Let's see. 

Don't worry, Isobel pops up again!

  • Like 4
Link to comment
On 4/26/2024 at 3:37 PM, Doha said:

And now that I've caught up I shall have to be patient. 😆 🤣 

Me too!  We face a week of cold turkey @Doha!   Be merciful, Robert…..

  • Like 1
  • Haha 4
Link to comment

Keith has someone like Nico that he can call on and get information about doing the restoration, and that is great.  The is one think about trades like electrician, plumber, etc. you get that mentorship and if you are lucky, they stick around a long time.

Keith is lucky in his friends too.  Sounds like a lively bunch of guys to be around.  And while words matter; actions are more important.

  • Like 1
  • Love 1
Link to comment
View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    Sign Up and get an occasional Newsletter.  Fill out your profile with favorite genres and say yes to genre news to get the monthly update for your favorite genres.

    Sign Up
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..