Love - Existentially

by John Teller

Part 31

Book Twelve – Alexandre et al... The Paschal Lambs.

Stuart Begbie

Friday July 30th 1976. Paris, France.

I'm stunned when I read the letter. Although it's in French, I'm now au fait with the language to understand it perfectly, as well as reading the sentiments behind the words.

Stuart,

No doubt this will come as a shock to you - or it may not since you are now aware of the relationship I have with Sabine – but I have decided to end our association. I will try to be as brief and to the point as I can without hurting you too much despite not having any affection for you now. But you have long suspected that state of my mind, just as I know that the only person who will ever have your love is your precious Michael. But I will dwell no more on matters of the heart... or the lack of them. C'est la vie.

I have taken our daughter Michelle, but I have not taken Alexandre. There is a reason for that. Even the name is synonymous with everything that is different between us. For you and those like you, it is an uncanny synonym running through every part of your lives, and that includes Peyrefitte and generations of Michael's family, and your decision to call our child by that name is just a continuation of the way you think. As you know, I have never taken to our male child. I knew I would never love him since he emerged from my womb. He is now yours, and I will sign all the papers necessary to make him entirely so. But we will conduct things through our lawyers at the same time as we deal with any other matters. However, I intend that Michelle will be fully mine forthwith, and that will be part of the settlement. You will not see Michelle, and I will never bother you to see Alexandre. If you choose to make things difficult then let me make it clear that I will use all and everything, including revealing the many secrets amongst Your Kind to gain favour over you.

So now I will end by telling you that Sabine and I have gone to live in Lausanne. (The full address is on the back of this letter.) We will bring up your daughter in a way that is fitting to her status, and as you know, there will be no lack of love in her life. That, at least, because I know how much you care for her, should be of some comfort to you.

I wish you and Alexandre comfort in your lives.

You will find your boy at Peyrefitte's apartment. I told him that I had other things to attend to and asked him if he would be so kind as to pick him up from school and look after him until you had finished work.

I can say no more,

Isabelle.

So, it's eventually happened. I was expecting something to happen, but still the shock of the finality and awfulness of what she's done has shattered me and is making me angry. This... I did not expect! More than anything I am fuming at the words she used... I have never taken to our male child. She couldn't even use the word Boy to describe the beautiful child that is Alexandre. Would it have harmed her to do so? No. She chose her words carefully. How ironic. Although I have always sympathised with Michael's and Alex's situation when they were deserted by their mother, because my own mother is so loving and caring, just as Alex's wife Carol is, I have never truly understood how they could be so indifferent to the woman who brought them into the world, and in Michael's case... that indifference bordered on hate. But now I understand. Isabelle cannot even use the excuse that she's a lesbian to defend her nature. It matters not what gender the person is... it is in the nature and not the sexual disposition. I'm a homosexual, but I would never dream of doing with Alexandre what she has done with our beautiful Michelle, even though I knew our time was over when I caught Isabelle and Sabine in bed when I came home early unannounced about a month ago. She has robbed a daughter of her father, and I have seen the consequences of what happens when a loving parent is missing in a child's life. And to add to that, she has robbed a sister of a brother, and a brother of a sister.

There are no tears from me. I am too angry for that. But neither will I react like a fool. Alea iacta est. The die is cast, and in this case that is a perfect description of what has happened, and my first regard is for Alexandre, who I adore. One thing you were right about, Isabelle, he was never your son. He could have been had you loved him, but now he is the real son of Michael Johnson and Stuart Begbie. That is the situation, and that is how I will deal with it. As for Michelle, I will always be available to her at whatever age she decides to see me again. Unless her mind is poisoned against me, and knowing now what Isabelle is capable of, nothing would surprise me. If you choose to make things difficult then let me make it clear that I will use all and everything, including revealing the many secrets amongst Your Kind to gain favour over you. Two could play that game. I know people in powerful places, but I will not stoop so low. I care more for Michelle's state of mind than I do personal revenge.


Because Alexandre is at the table, we cannot say too much. Well, we cannot speak in terms that a five year old child can understand, so we speak in English, which is my boy's second language and he is not as familiar with it as the language he uses daily in most forms of his life. It is only when I talk to him during the evenings and when he is with my own parents or Alex's family that he is subjected to it. But he is a clever boy and a daily dose of it from me has ensured he is reasonably bilingual.

Roger Peyrefitte has taken his time reading the letter, and I can see that he is deeply upset. When he looks at me, his eyes are misted over with tears when he says, "The Paschal Lamb. The sacrificial lamb. It is not only the name Alexandre or Alexander that is synonymous with what we are... The Paschal Lamb also plays a large part of what is and will be. My own dear boy was sacrificed to the ungodly, and now your dear boy has suffered the same fate." Then he places his hand over mine, and continues, "But on this occasion we can break the finality of the sacrifice. Let our beautiful boy here be the beginning of a new era. We will ensure his happiness even at the cost of our own. Make that your goal in life and you will reap the rewards of any sacrifice you make. One thing she was right about... our beautiful boy was always the love-child of your dear Michael and you. Yes, the circumstances now are awful, but they are also beautiful. I have often told you that love is existential, and that applies to all forms of love. Now what will you do? Have you given the matter some thought?"

I look into his eyes, and nod. "Yes. I will take him home."

"To be with your parents?"

"No. Home! I will telephone Alex later and tell him what has happened. I will have his name changed. He will become Alexander Johnson 4th. His name will be Alexander Michael Begbie-Johnson, and he can drop the former surname as and when he or we see fit. You don't mind me dropping the French version of his name, do you? In England, Alexandre is feminine and will not go down well in his life."

"Not at all. But is it wise to change his name so quickly? Are you acting too hastily?"

"No. Sometimes, some things in life are unambiguous. This is one such time... and sooner done than mended. He is young enough for it not to affect him greatly. My parents are too old to bring up a five year old. I will need to work. I would trust him with you, but the situation would not be suitable."

"You would trust him with me?"

I squeeze Roger's hand. "Yes I would."

Now tears are flowing from Roger's eyes when he says, "My beautiful boy, your words are the sweetest ones I have ever known outside of the words I had from my own beautiful boy who has been my life and my soul. And you are right. Like my dear Roro, he would be an untouchable. Have you telephoned Michael's brother?"

"No, not yet. But Alex will do it. He will do anything for me."


I'm moved when I hear Alex's comforting voice over the phone after I've told him what has happened. "So, she's gone and left you in the lurch, has she?! I never did bloody trust her. It was in my bloody water that something was wrong with her. I wish I'd told you before you went and got yourself into trouble. Get your arse back here and we'll sort things. I don't want you fretting in Gay Paree on your own. And bring the young bugger with you. We'll sort summat out. How are you?"

"I'm shattered, Alex."

"I'm not bloody surprised. Have you told your mam and dad?"

"Not yet. I don't want to bother them. You probably know Mother and Father are away on a Mediterranean cruise until the eighth of August. I'll tell them when they get back. I'll delegate my workload in Paris, so they can manage without me for a while... if not permanently if I decide to move back to England. Mother and Father will be broken hearted when I tell them what's happened."

"Yes, I suppose they will, but they won't be surprised at the you and her breaking up bit. I do speak to your dad you know. He was wondering himself how long you two would last. Mind you... even he didn't suspect her to be the bitch she is. So bring the lad home and we'll get him a bloody dog. I thought I'd done with bloody dog hairs on the furniture! Carol will go mad with you because the Hoover keeps getting blocked up. And stop worrying... it'll all come right in the wash. Trust your Alex."

"I could stay at my parents' house with Alexandre, but do you mind if we both stay with you for a couple of nights? I don't fancy being alone at the moment. I'll sleep on the sofa."

"Sleep on the bloody sofa?! The bloody hell you will! I'll make them pair of queer buggers sleep downstairs until something is sorted. It's about time that bloody Alex and Hamzah buggered off and rented their own place. They're nineteen now... old enough to do their own bloody thing. Mind you, when they see your little Alex, I suspect both the buggers will become broody. Well, I know Hamzah will." Alex chuckles. "We can let them bring him up and then they can get the bloody dog and Hoover up the dog hairs. How about that for a great solution?"

I giggle. "I don't think so, Alex. Neither of them can hold a candle to you. You're the only person in the world I would trust him with to be brought up properly."

Alex giggles. "Plenty of pig's trotters will put hairs on his chest. By the way, can he speak proper English yet?"

"I'm not sure if he can fully understand your daft talk, but yes... he's bilingual?"

"What! You mean he's half queer as well as you?"

I chuckle. "Sod off Alex! You know what I mean. I'll get a flight tomorrow and see you later in the evening."


Alexander Johnson, Michael's brother.

"Well, what do you think me duck? Shall we do it?"

Carol smiles at me. "Do we have much choice?" Then she grins. "He's a beautiful little bugger. The spitting image of Stuart when he was a boy. I was looking through Michael's photo album the other day and he's got some pictures in there of Stuart from when he was a baby. My only worry is that he might struggle to fit in here because he's always led a posh life. This will be a bit of a come-down to him after what he's used to."

I give Carol a big hug. "Don't be so bloody daft! A few toys... plenty of love and a new dog and he'll be as right as rain."

"A new dog?"

I chuckle. "Of course! Every little boy should have a dog. Another Jack Russell. We'll call him Mick after our Michael. He was always like a dog with a bone when he set his mind to something. Either that or Whisky."

Carol giggles. "You're crazy you are!"

Again I give her a special hug. "I know I am. That's why you fell for me. Just think... you could have found yourself a fella who bored you to death most of the time. That is why you fell for me isn't it... because I'm crazy?"

"No. I fell in love with your lovely black pit eyes. Well, that's what attracted me to you when I saw you on the bus that day... that and the fact that you were whistling Danny Boy so loud that everybody was giggling because you didn't give a damn."

I chuckle. "I was a good catch... a whistling collier who loves dogs and doesn't give a damn. Think yourself lucky girl! Now switch the bloody telly on and we'll watch Coronation Street. You did record it... didn't you! I bloody hate people messing me about and making me miss my Coronation Street!"


Stuart Begbie.

It's not the situation that brings me to tears when we arrive at Alex's... it's the pure homeliness of being with the family I love. Michael's family... the family that has moulded me into what I really am. I may be a 'posh bugger' as Alex sometimes refers to me, but inside I'm not posh. That's a façade that hides the real me... the one Michael loved; the person who would do anything to gain favour for those I love, and apart from Michael, I have never loved anyone more than I do his brother Alex.

But my tears soon dry up when Alexandre is lifted into Alex's brawny arms and he dances around the room with him and young Michael and Hamzah are chasing him to get a bit of the action. Then young Alex comes to me and puts his brawny arm around my shoulders while they're doing it. He's grown to be as big as his dad, and it seems he has the same protective instinct, because he looks into my eyes and asks, "Are you alright?"

I smile at him. "I am now I'm here. Sorry I'm chucking you two out of your bed for a couple of nights."

He grins at me. "It's done me a favour. Being downstairs means I won't worry so much when he is making daft noises when we go to bed."

I giggle. "Your Uncle Michael used to say the same about me. We ladies always make a lot of noise. It goes with the territory of having to put up with you useless hunks."

Another shoulder hug. "Mum's changed the bedsheets." Then he winks at me. "And she's put a photograph of Uncle Michael on the bedside cupboard, so don't mess them up."

I put my arm around his waist and give him a hug. "Don't be such a cheeky bugger. You're getting to be as bad as your dad."


Alain d'Evreux

Saturday September 11th 1976.

I don't care that it's raining. Just the smell of the sea air is enough to lift my spirits now I'm 'home'. But the smell of the sea air is only a small part of why my spirits are flying as high as a seagull in stormy weather... in just a few minutes I will be in the arms of the man I love. And I chuckle when I see that Archie has got the closed sign on the studio door. So, after I've paid the driver of the taxi who has brought me from the train station, I drag my heavy suitcase around to the side door and go inside.

Although I've been away in Paris for two months, Archie is putting on his indifferent pose as he sits on the sofa in front of the log fire and looks up at me, and says, "So you're back then! What took you so long?"

I grin at him. "Something to do with having to celebrate my twenty-third birthday with my possessive Mama. Have you missed me?"

He adopts his Cornish accent. "I be too busy boy! Not all us smugglers and highwaymen can afford to go swannin' off to fields afar when we got a business to run and fetch barrels of grog from shipwrecks at same time. We busy people we is. Not got time go and sell us posh wares in us own exhibitions. You be tellin' me next you sold everythin' you made."

I go to the sofa and throw myself beside him, and chuckle when I say, "I sold everythin' Boy! No need us work through thems winter months. We can spend every minute in bed we can." Then I grin into his beautiful eyes. "Less you gone off me Boy?"

Archie giggles. "Best get your wet coat off then Boy! I not be makin' love to no exhibitionist that's wet through."


You and me. Three hours of you and me and still I am needing more. But Archie is exhausted and I need to spare my wonderful, beautiful man from further punishment, so I push him onto his back and stare down into his face and tell him, "God... I've missed you! Je taime Archie... je t'aime a thousand times."

Tears of love now from Archie, and then he says, "A million times from me. I love you my precious boy. In fact I love you so much that another day would have broken my heart completely." Then he smiles through his tears when he asks, "Did you really sell every piece you made?"

I nod. "Almost. I gave three pieces away."

"Three pieces?"

"Uhuh. One to Mama and one to Papa, and the other one to someone else."

"Someone else?"

I place a finger on his lips. "Yes, but none of your business. My heart belongs to only one person on this earth, and I'm looking at him now."

He grins. "I never thought a beautiful boy like you would have to pay for it."

I giggle. "It wasn't like that. It was a gift for someone special for keeping me away from the wolves. He served a purpose. Anyway, I'm not a boy now. I am twenty-three you know!"

Archie pulls my head down and kisses me softly on the lips. "You'll always be my boy. So I'll now wish my boy a belated happy birthday. I've made you a birthday present."

"Have you now? That will be two gifts I get from you."

"Two?"

I nod, and smile. "Yes... two. I've just had the most wonderful birthday present you could give me."

"And did you enjoy that gift?"

I lie down by his side, put my head on his shoulder and wrap and arm and leg around him, and tell him, "More than you will ever know, my precious Archie. More than you will ever know. In fact just being in your arms again is the most precious gift I could have. I've missed you. Je t'aime, Archie. Je t'aime."

"Would you like to go out for a meal later?"

His comment disturbs me from my comforts and I get back up and stare into his face! "Non! I've just spent two months pandering to other people's wishes and doing things I didn't want to do and eating meals out that I didn't want to eat!" Now I've made my point, I settle down beside him again and whisper, "You and me. Just you and me on the sofa in front of the fire and a bowl of that silly fish stew I know you've made me is my perfect heaven."

Archie chuckles. "How do you know I've made my silly fish stew?"

I chuckle. "I could smell it as soon as I walked in. Just smelling it was part of the reason I cried."

"It's not that bad!"

Now I'm giggling fit to burst, and when I've controlled myself, I say, "Everything you do and say makes me smile. It's why I love you so much. You're fun, Archie. Nobody is as much fun as you."

Archie giggles. "I'm a funny monsieur. But I'm good at making fish stew that builds your stamina up. I think we'd better go and clean up and then have some. Judging by what you've just done to me, I reckon I might need some silly fish stew if I'm to last more than fifteen minutes when we do go to bed. I'm only forty-two, but I feel like a seventy year old when you've had your naughty way with me. I need silly fish stew... gallons of it!"

And we both laugh.


Archie Whittingham.

I'm in heaven with my boy in my arms. We've left the main light off and just a table lamp is lit behind us. The blazing log fire is sending flickering shadows around the cosy room and we're listening to soft music playing in the background. Occasionally we kiss... just soft loving kisses of a new togetherness. It's always like this when Alain has been away. We make love; we eat silly fish stew, and then we relax in the comfort of home. And we chat, and even our chat is spoken in soft tones, and I hold Alain's hand just a little bit tighter when I ask him, "And what have they got to say on the Stuart Begbie situation in Paris?"

He shrugs his shoulders. "The usual tittle-tattle. None of them really know anything. They just make wild assumptions and guesses. I just listened to what they had to say and said I knew nothing. The last I heard was that Stuart was moving back to England next month. What do you know?"

"I was speaking to him the other day. Yes, he is moving back to England. He's going back up north to be close to his parents and to Michael's brother. Apparently, he's decided to let his boy Alexandre be brought up by Alex and Carol."

"That's a strange thing to do, isn't it? Bit of a come down for the boy!"

"I suppose so. But Stuart isn't in a position to bring the boy up properly. He has to go to work... his parents are too old to look after the boy, not that they'd want to at their age, and it isn't likely he's going to get married to a woman again. So I understand why he's doing it. The boy will be fine. He'll be in a house full of love, which is all that matters really."

Alain snuggles into me. "I would never do that to you."

"Do what?"

"Leave you for anyone else."

"And suppose I went off to Australia and only saw you a couple of times a year. Wouldn't you want something better?"

"No. I'd hate you for doing it to me, but no one could ever take your place. I'd hate you and love you at the same time. But love would win." Alain waves a hand at the room in front of us. "Just one day a year being with you like this is all it would take for me to remain only yours. Stuart was wrong to do what he did. It ended up killing Michael in the end."

Again I take Alain's hand and squeeze it. "No, that wasn't what killed him. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time was what killed him. It can happen to any of us. Life is a maze. Like Michelle going off with Sabine and shattering Stuart's life. These things happen. "

Alain squeezes my hand again. "I suppose you're right. And how is Hamzah doing?"

I chuckle. "Love- existentially, as you're so often telling me is one of your special friend's sayings. Hamzah and young Alex are still together and I hear they're getting kicked out soon. Alex says they're nineteen now and it's time they flew the nest. And, apparently, young Alex is now a bulldozer driver, so he'll be working away for some of the time. So that means Hamzah will be left in the same situation Michael put Stuart in."

Alain chuckles. "So, Hamzah will then find himself a woman and they'll have a couple of children, a boy and a girl, and the woman will turn out to be a lesbian and will run off with Nanny and their daughter and leave Hamzah holding the boy baby, so to speak."

I giggle. "Something like that. Now don't you get finding yourself a woman, boy, or I be off fishin' for mackerel and drown meself and find meself in Davy Jones' Locker! What ull I do then boy?!"

Alain gurgles with laughter. "You go to bed with Davy Jones."

I give Alain a pretend hard stare. "But he be an old man, boy! An' as you knows, I only likes cute little boys with cute little bottoms that wear berets and likes to make pottery."

More chuckles from Alain. "Not true. Warren didn't wear a beret, did he?"

I chuckle. "No, but he had a cute little bottom."

"As cute as mine? Do you still think about him?"

I sigh. "Sometimes, but not about that side of things. I just wonder if he's okay."

"Do you still love him?"

I think about what Alain has asked me and I realise that my love for Warren has now changed to one of affection only, so I answer him truthfully, "No. I'm still very fond of him, but someone else has filled my heart with so much love that there's no space left for me to love anyone else. Stuart sent me some photographs of Alex and his family and his little boy. Do you want to see them? They're in that envelope on the side table beside you. They only came yesterday."


Alain d'Evreux.

I look at the photographs Archie told me about. I needed to. When Archie told me that he was so full of love for me that I'd squeezed out his love for Warren, I almost burst into tears. I was never jealous of Warren, but just knowing that I'm the only person Archie loves is a very special feeling for me. Now I know he feels exactly as I do, and that's how I want us to be.

Young Alex. The moment I look at him in the photographs I can see Michael in him. A young Michael, but nevertheless, he is definitely a 'Michael', and I feel a stirring in my loins as I stare at the young doppelgänger of the man who drove me almost to madness in my desire to be in bed with him. He has that look upon his face! It's unmistakable and I can hardly breathe as I look at his smiling face. But I just skim through the photographs so as not to alert Archie of my disposition. And then I tell him, "They all look happy. I've seen Stuart quite a few times, but I haven't seen his brother Alex since the funeral."

"Perhaps we should have a couple of days off and go and see them? I think we'd be welcome. I can always ring and ask. And you've never been to the museums up there, have you? There's the main one, but the best ones are the Wedgwood one and the Doulton one. They've got some brilliant Flambe stuff in there, and then there's the Spode museum and the Minton one. Their Majolica is out of this world. You'd love it."

I shrug my shoulders. "Sounds good. But shouldn't we wait until the sales season dies down? We both need to stock up. It seems that I'm not the only one who has been selling well."

Archie grins. "Indeed! I gone and bought us a new car, boy! It be a surprise for you. A brand new Ford Mondeo estate car. Your Mama will like it. It be real posh, boy."


Mr Bourne – Michael and Stuart's former teacher and confidante.

Stuart is still a beautiful young man, and his small son is destined to be just as beautiful, if not more so. I'm glad they've called to see me. I look at the photograph of Michael and Stuart every day. I'm not one to get depressed, but I often feel a great sadness when I recall the memories of yesteryear. Not always. Sometimes I'm filled with joy at what I had. Angela and I couldn't have children, but we ended up having a child, albeit an adopted one after tragic circumstances.

Michael never neglected me after he moved away. I have a thick sheaf of letters he wrote to us to tell us of his life. There was just that short period after he and Stuart broke up that they stopped, but then my heart was filled with joy when they recommenced when he was being a lunatic on that lorry driving job. Then, when he met Hamzah and mentored him I was not the slightest bit surprised. It's something Michael would do... see the hopelessness in a person and step in if it was possible. I was pleased he did. It took his mind off the Him and Stuart matter. I sensed his disposition had changed when he found that new challenge in his life. But that's what Michael was all about... facing, even seeking out challenges and conquering them. He was the most splendid human being I've ever met in my life. A world full of Michaels and there would be no problems on this earth. And they dare look down on homosexuals! They are not fit to lace his boots.

"How are you both," asks Stuart.

I smile at him. "Getting a little older each day, but fine otherwise. And you?"

Stuart shrugs his shoulders. "Shattered, but I'm not angry now. I'm past that stage. It will all come right in the wash, or as Michael so often said: Everything for a reason. I can't get my head around that. I see no reason in what happened to Michael."

I smile at Stuart. "The beautiful boy on your knee is that reason. From death comes life, and in your case you are blessed. He is perhaps even more beautiful than you were as a boy. And then there is Hamzah. Had you not parted then he may be lying dead in some God-forsaken hole wherever, but now he has a life of love and security ahead of him. From death comes life, and your hurt has created love and existence and beauty. Take strength from that, Stuart. Your Michael's life was not wasted, and also take strength from something both you and I know... he had only one true love in his life, and that was you. The rest is peripheral. Consequences of existential love. Be at peace with yourself. Love your Michael every day and bask in what you had, because what you had is so rare that you should consider yourself blessed. And Michael is still around."

"Still around?"

Another smile to ease Stuart's pain. "Oh yes! He often fondles my old head when I'm listening to music or reading a book. And he kisses Angela on the cheek sometimes." I look at my wife. "I'm right, aren't I?"

Angela nods and smiles. "Quite often. I'm used to it now."

Stuart looks puzzled. "But why is he not with me? I don't feel his presence."

Another smile. "Why are you here? Michael has directed you to come and see us. In your hour of need I have spelled out the consequences of your love. The words I've spoken are not my words; they are the words of the man you loved. They came too easily to be of my frail mind these days. Sometimes I forget what day it is. He is with you now Stuart. He will always be with you. Where else would his soul repose other than in the heart of the boy he loved?"

I was expecting something, but not the deep emotions Stuart can contain no longer, and because he is in such a state, Angela goes to him and picks up Alexandre and takes him into the kitchen to save the boy from being upset. Déjà vous. In the hour of Michael's greatest need, I was there for him, and now I am also here for Stuart as he goes to his knees before me, lays his head in my lap and sobs his heart out. And tears slip from my eyes as he does so, and as I stroke his soft hair, I tell Stuart, "I was your mentor... your confidante... and what you evolved into was part my doing. I am as much responsible for Michael's death as you are, Stuart. I could have stopped it all when it was just flowering; presented obstacles that would have been too great for you to overcome, but I chose to let the power of your love blossom into the most beautiful love I have ever known, which, despite the tragic outcome, was, in my eyes absolutely the right thing to do."

When the deepest hurt has left Stuart, he folds himself back onto his haunches and looks me in the eyes. Then he takes a handkerchief from his coat pocket, blows his nose into it, folds it over, and wipes away his tears. Then he smiles. "You're right. I'm just feeling terribly sorry for myself." Then, still tearful, he looks around the room and says, "I'll look after our boy, Michael. And I won't spend the rest of my life sulking either. He's going to be a Johnson. Sit on his shoulder Michael. When I'm struggling, I'll need your help. I always did. We'll get through this together. I love you." Then Stuart's eyes widen in astonishment, and he looks frantically into my eyes when he asks, "What was that?"

I smile at him. "Did he stroke your hair?"

The tears begin again, and Stuart nods. Then I see him draw up his shoulders, and for a fleeting moment I see the young boy he used to be. And I know he will be fine from now on. I also know that I will see more of him in the future. What he's just experienced will need to be experienced again. I hope Michael doesn't let his boy down.


Alain d'Evreux

Friday November 26th 1976.

Archie has arranged everything. We are up north and have arranged to see the Johnson family and Hamzah. Archie is au fait with the Johnsons, but I am not, particularly. We live in two different worlds. But nevertheless, Archie and I can be described as 'casual friends', and as we book into the Grand Hotel in the city centre, which is about the least grande hotel I have ever stayed in, I am once again reminded of the earthiness of the place, and not only that, but this earthy place is still special to me in that it has spawned the sexiest man I have ever met in my life. But that is why I am here. I am itching to meet another who carries the same genes... the tantalising young Alexander, who is now aged nineteen and will be twenty in February... Michael's doppelgänger. If he is half the man his uncle was, then I would like to bed him.


Alexander Johnson aged nineteen

Sunday November 28th 1976.

Hamzah has told me that he has never liked him. He's given me chapter and verse on him and Archie Whittingham. I like Archie, but his lover, Alain d'Evreux, is just something else. He's a stunning looker, but there's just something about him that I don't like. For a start, ever since he arrived here to have dinner with us, he's the odd man out. And something else disturbs me... Hamzah told me that he's sure that he and Uncle Michael had a thing going when Hamzah was young. It was after Uncle Michael and Stuart broke up, but nevertheless, probably because I know how deep and meaningful the relationship was between Uncle Michael and Stuart, I can't come to terms that anyone but Stuart could have been that way with my uncle. But something else is bothering me. Despite all these thoughts, I know that if there was no Hamzah, then I would love to fuck him. He's definitely a sexy bastard!


Me and Hamzah have taken a time out in our bedroom, and he comes into my arms. I stare into the beautiful blue eyes I've adored since I was a boy, and ask him, "What's the matter with you?"

Hamzah kisses me on the lips, and then asks, "Will you?"

"Will I what?"

His face is serious when he looks into my eyes. "Don't tell me you haven't noticed? Alain, he can't keep his eyes off you. He wants you just like he wanted Michael, and had him."

I drag Hamzah into me and hug him tight. Then I kiss his forehead. "He's a sexy bastard, I'll give him that, but if I did what you think I might do then I would be breaking the one thing that's most dear to me... the trust we have in one another. I'm a Johnson, and we don't do that sort of thing. Uncle Michael and Stuart were over if and when they did it, so Uncle Michael was a free man to do as he chose. I'm not a free man. I love Hamzah Raji Khan Bousaid, and as long as we're together then I'd never betray your trust in me. So stop worrying and let me handle things if anything does occur." I lift Hamzah's head and look again into his beautiful blue eyes. "Do you trust me?"

Hamzah looks back into my eyes, and then he smiles. "Yes. Always. I'm pleased Michael couldn't resist my charms when I was eating his goat meat on the car park at Istanbul. From goat meat to Alexander Johnson has been a great journey."

I grin at him. "Your charms? Are you sure Uncle Michael never had you in bed?"

Hamzah giggles. "I was always in his bed. He slept with it tucked up between my bum cheeks. My fantasies were that he'd shove it up me. But I think he was saving me up for you. I think he was a psychic."

I giggle. "I think he was fucking nuts. I would have shoved it up your arse!"

Hamzah chuckles and then says, "Promises... promises. You're always promises. I think it's time we got a place of our own and then you might keep to them."

I grin at him. "If you didn't make so much bloody noise then I'd do it more often. You're like a bloody jackal in heat when you get going. God knows what Mam and Dad think about you. I think we had better get that new place. They'll be kicking us out if we don't. Mind you, now Dad's got me this bulldozer driver job, you can give up your job in the offices and come and live in a caravan with me on the sites I'm working on. We can live like bloody gypos."

Hamzah screws up his nose. "You've got no chance. I'm not leaving here now we've got our own little boy to look after. I'm going to educate him so he's clever enough to go to Oxford. That's what Michael would have wanted."

I screw my own nose up back at him. "Are you bloody kidding?! Uncle Michael hated the bloody place. The only time he was happy in his life was when he was at home before Granddad died, and when he was with Stuart." Then I wink at him. "Then he became happy again when he found you. He really did love you. You're his real son."

Hamzah chuckles. "I'm glad he wasn't an incestuous father. It would have spoiled things."

Again I wink at him. "You're the incestuous one, not him. You're the one who wanted your dad to shove it up your arse. Now shall we go and join the others before they think it's what we're doing?"


Hamzah Bousaid.

Michael will be pleased with me. Once again I've defended his honour. No one will ever know what we really were when I became old enough. Why should they? It was Michael who taught me that appearances matter. God... I miss him! Not like that, but because he was the rock on which I've built my life since we met. Love – existentially at work again. And now I'm in love with his nephew, who is more than a lover to me... he's my life, and I want nothing more than he continues to love only me. That's why I took him to our room. I've seen the way Alain d'Evreux has been looking at him. I know exactly what's in his mind, but this time I'm absolutely certain that he won't get his own way with my Alex.


Alain d'Evreux.

The beautiful countryside is flashing by as Archie is driving us home, but I am not seeing any of it. I am recalling the words of Alexander Johnson when I offered him my calling card after I'd been giving him the eye all evening. I thought I'd got him when his eyes kept meeting mine. And then I took the chance and went to speak to him as he was alone and leaning against the doorway to the entrance to the kitchen. I made small talk, and then I hinted that he was as much a hunk as his uncle Michael was, and when I thought he understood what I meant and I gave him my calling card and told him to write or telephone me if he ever wanted my company, he smirked at me and his words were vicious when he said, "Stick your fucking calling card up your fucking arse! Archie deserves better than you!"

Then he walked away and joined in with the others while they were all having fun with Stuart's little boy. I felt sick inside. There were two reasons why I felt that way... the first was that, for the first time in my life I had been rejected, and that was bad enough, but those cutting words: Archie deserves better than you! are resonating within me as an ever increasing crescendo of bitterness, because I know he is right.

My Archie... my beautiful Archie is in love with a whore, and he does deserve better than that. And maybe one day he will find it, but not while I'm around he won't.

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