The Only Way to Fly
During the wake, the world turned white. Thankfully Mr Watson had advised us to bring our vehicles into the back yard where Billy helped him open up the equipment sheds. It was a tight squeeze but Mr Watson got us all tucked in just as the first snow fell, heavy enough for Mr Watson to ask us if we wouldn't mind helping him round up the last few strays of his livestock and shepherd them down to his farmstead. Indian, Rob and Todd volunteered; each having worked or lived in a farming community some time or other. I'd been born and raised on one but I didn't want to leave Daley and the older guys to cope on their own with all the mess. With Billy, they donned their warmest clothes and some waterproofs Bill had hanging on the kitchen door, and rode away in Mr Watson's all weather jeep, but not before Mr Watson took a look at the roofs of all the buildings. He declared them secure enough; Bill having had repairs done before the winter set in. We used the bus and my car to get the villagers home and then helped Trilby and the others clear away the remains of the wake. Ken did the least of all, which didn't surprise me; preferring to tinker about on Bill's keyboard, a real beauty. He was still on it when Billy and the boys arrived back. Billy went to the keyboard, pulled the plug out of the wall socket and walked away.
Ken's face was a picture. "How rude can you get!"
"If he doesn't want his dad's stuff touched, that's his business." I said, and dumped a bag of rubbish in his hands.
I started to walk away but he called me back. There were only the three of us in the barn but Ken spoke loud enough for Billy to hear. "What is it with you two? All that spiel about the kid being off limits; I think it's more like you've got the hots for him yourself. Private territory is he?"
My blood boiling, I reached for him but Billy whistled me. He had a look of disgust on his face as he stared at Ken and made like he was spitting. I turned away to continue brushing the floor, feeling elated that Billy should feel it necessary to come to my defence. I liked that. At least I had learned how I stood with Ken.
That night a blizzard dumped a big load of the white stuff on us. We opened the front door in the morning to a solid snowdrift. The back yard wasn't too bad, so at least Billy could take Jake outside to do what's what. Jake and Billy were like a puppy and his little kid, charging around in the snow and Jake trying to catch the snowballs Billy threw at him and getting frustrated when they disintegrated in his mouth. It was fun to watch them as Daley, Rob and I prepared breakfast for nine hungry mouths; I apologise, make that ten hungry mouths. Using whatever seats we could find, we managed to squeeze round that kitchen table, with Jake sitting between Billy and me, his tongue hanging out and grinning. He wasn't allowed food from the table on Daley's orders, but Daley had carefully saved a few titbits from the wake. Billy dropped these into a dish on the floor from time to time, receiving a glare of disapproval from Ken. Jake's snout was level with Billy's elbow, and shoved Billy's arm if a choice morsel didn't come in time, once nearly spilling Billy's tea all over him. After a while he laid his head on Billy's thigh and stared up at him with adoring eyes. Billy stared down at him with the same adoration as he scratched Jake's ears, and I doubted Daley would be able to easily part these two when the time came to leave. Likewise I didn't think Billy would be bothered by the likes of Ken with Jake around. Jake was happy around Trilby and Daley, and was growing to like me; he just about tolerated the others but had no time at all for Ken. As we ate, the snow fell in large flakes till we couldn't see the far side of the yard, making it impossible to give the guy his marching orders. By the afternoon the storm had grown into another blizzard with gusts up to fifty miles an hour according to the weatherman on the morning TV program, and increasing by nightfall. Like it or not, we were stuck with the guy.
With the house facing north, the front got the full weight of the storm and by the following morning the drifts were half way up the windows. We had a phone call from Mr Watson, at nine thirty warning us that some power lines were down, and, as he was speaking, the phone went dead. Half an hour later the lights went out but at least we had independent central heating and a good supply of logs for the fire. Billy signed not to worry. While the boys joked about the situation, and Ken grouched about it, Billy and Daley put on waterproofs and disappeared out into the back yard. Fifteen minutes later the power came back on, Billy having turned on the emergency generator. I heard later from Billy that his dad had installed it a few years ago after suffering several blackouts. Even if we couldn't go anywhere till the weather broke and we could dig ourselves out, we were definitely weren't going to suffer too much. Billy, ever the good host, had a supply of videos, DVDs and books as well as various table games and packs of cards which he put at our disposal. And, of course, there was always plenty of room upstairs for more private activities.
Trilby and Daley were old friends, of course, but their relationship was an easy one that comes with maturity and familiarity, but the partnership, which surprised me most, was between Todd, the tiny five foot shrimp of the band, and the massive Scottish gorilla. Looking at the difference in size, I thought "Ouch!" Indian and Ashton weren't gay but tolerated the feelings of the rest of the band. Thinking no one noticed, Ken eyed everyone as a potential victim, and in my eyes that meant he was one to watch very carefully. He made his move a week later.
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