The Cup Bearer
"It's too warm in here," she whispered in his ear, "why don't we go outside for a bit?" Pushing the French windows further open, she led Gypsy out onto the patio. As they walked slowly towards the west wing, with their arms about each other, Shana said, "Would you care to tell me what is on your mind?"
Gypsy shook his head and pulled away from her. He carried on walking until they reached the stone wall separating the first of the garden terraces from the house. He leaned his elbows on the parapet and stared out across the gardens, and Shana heard the deep sigh which left him. "Is it about tonight?" Gypsy nodded his head and Shana put her arms round his waist and leaned her head against left shoulder. "You don't have to worry; we don't have to do anything you're not sure about. I'll be content for us just to be together, that's all."
Gypsy shook his head vigorously. A deep frown puckered his brow. "Something happened; I don't know where and I don't know when, but," He sighed again, "I've prayed about this and I don't want to start our marriage with any secrets or lies between us; but what I've got to say is going to hurt you."
"Tell me Gypsy, I'll try not to be too hurt." Shana wondered what on earth he had done that would cause her pain.
Gypsy looked away from her. "I've already had sex with a woman."
Stunned, Shana placed her hands on his shoulders and turned him to face her. Slowly he brought his eyes round to gaze into Shana's. His look was one of desolation. She shook her head. "It was just a bad dream you had; a throw back from all that has happened to you."
Gypsy shook his head. "It wasn't a dream, it was real; it happened."
He closed his eyes and turned his face away again. "There isn't much to remember, just chunks, all distorted, but I feel so dirty and ashamed."
"When did this happen?"
"I don't know; I don't even know who she was. She was masked, and we weren't alone."
Shana hated having to grill him like this but she knew she had to glean as much detail as she could before the memory passed. "What were they wearing; were you in a bed or what?"
"They were in some kind of skimpy ancient costume like in a ritual, we all were, and we - w-were in some kind of t -temple, I'm s-sorry, Shana."
Shana noticed the stammer coming back, and the slight twitch in his right cheek that pulled his mouth awry, and realised he was really stressed out. "There's nothing to be sorry for. It sounds like something Guido forced you to do when he drugged or hypnotised you; In which case you weren't to blame."
"I don't think so."
"Then what about something that happened while you were with Munante? I remember you telling me about Don being involved in something similar. Perhaps that was what you're remembering."
Gypsy shook his head. "No, there w-were no w-women there, only a few… little girls."
"Yeah, one of Mu-nan-te's s-sick pas-times was w-watching kids try to…you know? But this w-was a f-fully grown w-woman I was with."
"Were you forced to have sex with her?"
Gypsy shook his head slowly and said in a whisper, "No, and that's w-what makes me feel so g-guilty."
Shana swallowed hard before she asked the question foremost in her mind. "Did you enjoy it?"
"Yes," was Gypsy's simple answer.
Shana's heart went out to him. She felt disappointed rather than angry that she was not his first, but she thought it best not to show her feelings either way. Wasn't it bad enough, what Guido had done without this as well? She pulled Gypsy into her embrace. "Listen to me, Gypsy, it's obvious you've been forced to do things while you were drugged or under hypnosis. George wanted to take you through a program of hypnotic regression to find out what you were forced to do. Most of it is on the tapes Horace made but George seems to think Horace made those tapes to feed his own fetishes; he had quite a collection of similar tapes at his home. George feels he needs to do a properly supervised study of his own. Manuel refused to give him permission and I agree with him. I think it best you don't remember everything; we just have to support you and comfort you when you do."
"If only I knew w-when it h-happened. It must have b-been recent."
Chilled, Shana thought of the only time Gypsy had not had anyone with him; Christmas at Northwood. Manuel already had his suspicions that MacCaffrey was covering something up and she would certainly have a word with Manuel about this latest problem. "I'm glad you told me; it wasn't a false vow I made today. I meant what I said; I married you for the intimacy of marriage not just for the sexual side. You need someone to lean on and be close to. At least it proves you know what to do tonight and we know you can, don't we?"
Her attempt to make light of the issue failed to raise a smile or response as Gypsy gazed solemnly at her. After a few moments, he nodded. "I guess you're right. Thanks for not g-getting angry; I love you for that. I don't want to go back to the p-party. Would any-one think bad of us, if we just s-slipped away somewhere?"
"I think that's an excellent idea." A feeling of relief swept through Shana. The key first key she had given was for the outside door of the newly completed skating rink; and now she had the second key which she guessed was an entrance from the rink to Mrs. Chilver's, apartment. Reaching into her white wedding bag, she brought out the two keys. Holding the first one up she said, "We don't have to go back inside the house where people might stop us; this is the key to the skating rink. Remember your dad telling us it was finished last night. Let's go and look at it." Taking his hand she led him towards the far corner of the west wing where a new door had been cut into the wall. Unlocking the door, Shana pushed it open and stepped inside, shivering as the cold air hit her. She reached for the light switch on the wall to her left and the place was flooded with a soft yellow glow. In front of her was a perfect moon of pristine ice bordered by a freshly varnished barrier. After locking the door again, they walked on a rich burgundy carpet towards the changing area beside a small refreshment bar. While Gypsy gazed, wide eyed, at the place, Shana manoeuvred him towards several lockers where she suspected Manuel had already stowed their skating boots. "Wow!" Gypsy could only gasp as he hung over the barrier to examine the ice. Somewhere nearby, the refrigerating generator hummed.
After checking that the boots were in the first locker, she hurried to him and pulled him away. "Later, you unromantic thing; we've got better things to do; come on."
"Where to?" Gypsy asked, as she dragged him back towards the south wall.
"I'm not sure," Shana said as they stopped in front of a locked door; "but this second key should provide the answer."
As she slid the key in the lock, Gypsy said, "Hey, wait a minute. That door leads to the upstairs apartment. We can't go up there."
Shana smiled at him. "It's our house, so it belongs to us, so let's go take a look."
"I don't think we should, it's full of Mrs. Chilver's stuff."
"In that case why did she give me this key before she left, and told me to enjoy myself?"
Gypsy said nothing as Shana unlocked the door and pulled it open to reveal a flight the stairs. He followed her gaze. The staircase was dim and silent. With a quiet smile, Shana drew Gypsy close and reached behind him to push the door shut.
At last Gypsy felt he was home, and he was loved.
16 th May, 1996 Manchester Crown Court.
Shana sat with Manuel and Erskine in the visitors' gallery at Manchester Crown Court and gazed down at the scene below. All had not gone exactly to plan and Edward and Manuel were fuming that their arrangements for Gypsy to stay at the Rosscroft had come to nothing. Riots in the Oldham area of the city had depleted the police force and left them with no one to guard Gypsy at the clinic as arranged, and he had been taken down to the cells for the night. His first reaction had been one of stunned disbelief but, as Manuel and Thomas began to protest, he had shrugged his shoulders and asked for a bible. Manuel had a testament in his inside jacket pocket which he gave to Gypsy. He had then embraced Shana and Manuel and had walked off with the officers. Thomas had lodged an official protest but could do nothing else; the police had already been lenient over Gypsy's custody arrangements. As a murder suspect, his rightful place was behind bars for the duration of the trial.
Now Gypsy sat in the prisoner's box to her right, looking solemn and composed. He glanced up and caught her eye, gave her a faint smile and blew her a kiss. And Shana cast her mind back to the last time they were together, on their wedding night, within the beautiful, flower filled, love-nest created for them by Mrs. Chilver. After their initial shyness, they had explored each other's bodies, promising that anything they did was because they loved each other deeply. Shana found Gypsy to be a gentle, caring lover whose only wish was to cherish and please her, bringing them both to fulfilment several times that night. Shana yearned to hold him now, to share his tension and his fears. The officer on Gypsy's left leaned over and asked him a question. Gypsy smiled quietly and said something, and from the way the officer looked up at her and nodded, he had informed the officer who she was. At least he was on good terms with his guard, but he looked tired.
Mr. Duffy, the counsel for the prosecution, had already opened the case. A pathologist had described the fatal injury, a clean stab to the neck, severing the jugular vein, from which the deceased had bled to death. The police officer in charge of the investigation described what he had seen on arrival at the Visick Street house; how he had found Gypsy lying in the hallway covered with a blanket, still clutching the murder weapon in one hand and the phone in the other. The statements of Sandy and his father had been read out and the evidence seemed cleared enough. Gypsy was guilty of Guido's murder. The jury was already frowning at various, rather gruesome, photographs showing the details of the murder weapon, the site of the murder, and the body. Edward had warned Shana and Manuel that the prosecution would play heavily on the supposition that Gypsy was gay and had probably killed his step father to keep him from exposing his involvement with Guido's dealings. Now Mr. Duffy prepared to call his next witness. As soon as he said the name, both the Gypsy and Edward sat up, fully alert.
"I call Peter Grafton to the witness stand."
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]