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Songs of Bliss


have not quite grown into. One or two are the real deal, though, and Billy will meet Tod in
a few days.
Bex is not ready for the sex thing. She is quite matter of fact about the whole issue.
She reels off reasons as if she is reading a list of faculties in a university prospectus;
qualifications, boys rather than men, too young to really know her own mind, being
frightened of the responsibility. It is Billy who is uncomfortable. He has a history, a list, a
little black book chock- full of names from his illustrious past, but like his own parents, as
he grows older he finds the subject increasingly difficult to talk about to people younger
than himself, especially those he loves. He feels inadequate. He should be able to pass on
the benefit of his experience, but it seems so sordid. The thought of Bex in the arms of
some heathen called Tod begins to form in his head and he changes the subject.
Results. Bex wants to take a year out if she gets good grades, a year doing
something somewhere. She has yet to make up her mind. A year on the tiles before taking
up the books again. She wants to be a vet. Billy revels in her optimism, in the sheer range
and exuberance of her take on possibilities. The world beckons and she is ready to follow.
Billy tries to explain how careful she must be and how she must try to understand the
questions before assuming that she has any answers. He still has nightmares about his little
girl being led away by a Pied Piper.
How do you live with love, he wonders?
Bex wants to know about his past. Billy plays a game with her, one they have
enjoyed for some years now. He selects records from his collection, talks her through the
stories and the lives, and pins the melody to his own life. Bex has an aural map of her
father's history.
They always end up with Vic. As the last bars of On the Street Where You Live fall
away, Bex asks, "Can we go out tomorrow night? I want to see where you work".
Billy protests. "I wouldn't call Snuggle's the place where I work".
Bex insists and Billy bows to her youthful enthusiasm. "Okay, okay. Tomorrow
night. Actually, it's not a bad idea. Open mic night. You'll see how terrible most people are,
and just how talented your old man is."
"Modesty", says Bex, smiling up at her father. She is sitting on the floor, resting her
head on his knee as he selects records and tracks, and cues them up on the turntable. "And
it'll be nice to catch up with Maggie. Haven't seen her since last summer. How is she?"
Billy puts a hand on his daughter's head and strokes her hair gently. "Same old
Maggie…"
The old Sillick place continues to rot. Each season brings with it cliff top weather. It
almost never snows and frosts are rare, but it rains hard and often. When the wind blows
the rain billows across the fields in great sweeping clouds. It seeps into the fabric of
anything man made, finding the smallest cracks and gaps. For Doctor Jasari and his good-
time girl the early part of the week passes without weather. They have an accommodation
to make.
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