Love - Existentially

by John Teller

Epilogue to Book Six

Book Six - When Englishmen were boys

Stuart Begbie.

Saturday 28th March 1959.

We're in the finishing grandstand by The River Thames as the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race nears its conclusion. Sir Clarence has ensured that we all have seats. He's with his wife, sitting beside Mr and Mrs Bourne. Father and Mother are next to them. I'm in front of them. On my knee is two-year-old Alexander Johnson, who has captured the excitement and is bouncing up and down as I scream my support for Oxford. Alex and his wife Carol are next to me. Alex grins and takes his son from me. And then he shouts as only Alex can shout, "They're winning!"

I laugh. "Chiswick Steps and they're four lengths clear! They're going to win!"

Michael Johnson.

My muscles are screaming as the Cox spurs us on. We've kept our rhythm better than Cambridge, and victory is in our sights. But we can't relax. Visions of yesteryear come into my mind, and tears seep from my eyes. I can see Dada in his chair telling me to work hard; that lovely smile on his wrinkled face, and old Judy sitting on his knee. More effort! Now I can see Stuart the first time I saw him; that wonderful, blond, tousled hair blowing in the wind as the Magic Cap lands by my feet; his beautiful eyes looking directly into my own as he collects it from me; the moment I fell in love with him, and the years that have followed as he's schemed and plotted our lives so we could be together every single moment available to us. I can see Alex and remember his marriage to Carol on that warm day in June, and little Alexander as a baby and me crying for ages the first time I held him. Alexander Johnson the 3rd: Dada's first grandson. They're all there waiting at the finishing line, and no way am I planning to finish this race as a loser.

Stuart Begbie.

The two crews can be clearly seen now, and I can see Michael's strong back bending and heaving as he puts every bit of his strength into his stroke. My Michael. My beautiful Michael is going to win the race. Tears are coming from my eyes as they near the finishing line well ahead of Cambridge, and as they cross the line they're six lengths clear. I jump up from my seat and dance a jig. Everybody is laughing at me, but I don't care. Michael and the rest of the crew slump forward in their boat, completely exhausted by their efforts. Michael looks up. He sees me and lifts the gold chain from his neck, and kisses it. My gold chain... the one he wore as he won the English Schools Cross Country Championship. He grins and raises a clenched fist in salute to me. I return the salute.

Michael Johnson.

My beautiful lover returns my salute, and I stare at him. He's seventeen now, and still as beautiful as ever. He's grown into a super young man, but still that girlish look to his handsome features, and his blond hair is still tousled as it blows in the wind, and I still love him with every breath I take, and I know he still loves me the same.

Stuart Begbie.

It's the wee small hours. The party's over. Michael is half drunk, and so am I. The hotel room we're sharing has a double bed. I lie fully clothed on it, watching Michael as he comes, naked, out of the shower. He grins at me. I grin back at him, and ask, "Are you too knackered?"

For an answer, without drying his hair properly, he dives on the bed and towers over me, and then he kisses me passionately. And then he gives to me and takes from me all that we both desire.

Later, I lie snuggled in the arms of my lover. As usual, he has satisfied me completely, and I know he is too. Now it's time for our special loving. I stare into his beautiful eyes. "I love you, Michael."

Michael kisses me softly. "And I love you, Stuart, and I always will. But you know that anyway. The Magic Cap made sure of that."

I giggle at him. "I know that, but I never tire of hearing it. I wish we'd got the Magic Cap here now."

Michael tweaks my nose, gets off the bed, goes to his bag, rummages in it, and walks back to the bed with his hands behind his back. I begin to giggle again. "You haven't?!"

Michael lies beside me. "I have!"

He brings his hand from behind his back and puts the Magic Cap between our faces. The peak is level with our noses as we stare into each other's eyes over the top of it; and then, through the fabric, our mouths find each others, and we kiss passionately. The alcohol I've consumed has lowered my stoicism and opened the door to the deep inner me; the Stuart Begbie who loves his Michael Johnson, and the feelings inside me I try to stifle most of the time to enable me to live a modicum of a normal life, spill out into this precious moment. Those oh so valued feelings that are the real me are poured, unspoken, into my lover's eyes; into his heart and into his spirit, which belongs to me as much as it does to him. He is of me, and I am of him, like Siamese Twins joined at every organ and even at the heart and brain, and I know that nothing: nothing: nothing will ever stop us loving each other until the day we die, and, maybe, not even then, for who knows what lies beyond the grave? The future is an unknown entity, but that won't change the way we feel. This love; this reality is too great for that not to happen. But this love should not be hidden! It should be proclaimed to everyone - especially those of shallow, bigoted minds - that shared love between two human beings, of whatever gender, is blessed.

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land.

Goodnight my love

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