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Acknowledgements

Thank you to my trial readers who gave me encouragement to

change the many drafts and the confidence to carry on when all

seemed impossible. You were great.

Thank you John, Neal, Lulu, Elizabeth, Kate and especially

Franny who never lost faith, when others judged us wrongly from

a base of their own immorality.

Written by

Jack George Edmunson.

March 2008.

Exactly fifty-four years after the day I was born in 1954. Everything

I do and say is preparing for my death and rebirth into the

Collective in 2054. That is my fate and true path and therefore it

cannot be changed.

vii

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Each day when eight-year-old Jack arrived home from

school he would squat in the window ledge of the modern

semi-detached’s lounge to be as far away as possible

from the foot of the stairs and the ghost that haunted his

imagination from somewhere above.

He would squint at any remaining sunlight, desperate to see

his Mother returning from work as she strode expectantly up the

road, anxious to receive a hug from her handsome little boy.

He was too young to be ‘a latch key’ kid living near Bewdley in

Worcestershire but because of his youthful innocence he noticed

things in his loneliness that adults would miss, but accepted his

thoughts were never to be shared.

Sometimes, he would gather up all of his courage and quickly

stamp up those seven stairs, counting upwards from zero until he

leapt onto the top landing where he yelled in a panic stricken and

tearful voice.

“Go away! Leave me alone whoever you are; you have no right

to be in my Mummy’s house!”

Was it a fantasy created by the fear of an imaginative little boy

or was it the dawning of his awareness that he had a psychic gift?

The fear as he felt unloved and alone needing his Mother to praise

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him about the events of his day at school. The unknown gift

pushed to one side like the child who needed the love.

But Nim was always there acting as his spirit guide; trying to

protect him at that tender age and of course Nim never went away.

So an invisible Nim listened quietly, no matter how often a

trembling Jack screamed whilst facing the closed bedroom doors,

terrified in case one should open.

Then Nim would smile as he watched the mature child with

the brown hair scramble back down the stairs, jumping the last few

to resume his safe window perch and listen to his thumping heart.

Jack had been a sensitive and lonely child troubled by the spirit

World and would experience those same feelings of insecurity

when he became a man living in Catalonia and searching for his

true path.

Only then would he understand the reality that knocked on his

door just like his beloved Mother.

Inevitably, forty-one years later Jack George Edmunson was

still watched by Nim as he pulled his silver Mercedes into the gravel

drive of his home in Tettenhill.

It was a ‘Cheshire Brick’ cottage with a dark blue front door

centralised between windows to create a smiling and symmetrical

face that stared at the sun warming its south facing walls. Jack

adored the mirrored smile when it regarded the summer across

the most colourful cottage garden, complete with a living pond

that was an inherent part of the beautiful spot.

But on a Friday evening in the winter, and after a gruelling

weekly commute home, he was only watched by Nim who

remained silent in Jack’s mind, repulsed by those original

childhood defences.

Jack stared intently to see if his six-year-old son Joseph was

waiting for him, sitting in the front bedroom window, but turned

away disappointed as he saw the curtains were drawn.

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Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

Jack, listen to me again and start to believe in me.

I still feel those same fears I sensed in ‘little’ Jack when

I watched over you and they will never disappear

until you find and follow your true path.

It doesn’t matter what you look like Centurion.

I know your Karma and will always find you after

every reincarnation.

You don’t remember yet but your time has come again

and this will be your last opportunity for eternity.

Jack opened the heavy car door and stood motionless, feeling

the light westerly wind on his face carrying a distant voice that he

struggled to hear. He wiped his two hands across his nearly bald pate

but with his dreamy green eyes he was still handsome as he stretched

his arms above him and ignored the voice of his spirit guide.

He looked and thought like a successful businessman.

A small man in a small World who didn’t realise that in this

Karma he was meant to be a big man in a big World.

Nim was above Jack as he strode purposefully towards the rear

entrance of his home, leaving his briefcase, laptop and suitcase in

the car boot in his excitement to see his son Jojo. A smiling moon

shone above, closely caressed by a few bright white stars.

I know this man who doesn’t understand either his

history or his destiny.

Listen to me again Jack; it’s been a long time since we

spoke together.

You were born in Catalonia sixteen hundred years

ago and became a proud Roman Legionnaire who

nobly died for his Sun Sharer.

Now you must seek her out again to serve your future

and become my instrument in delivering the

‘fifth World’.

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Jack stepped into the warm cosy kitchen and looked around

for his boy.

The only person he could see was his wife Melanie setting out

dinner plates on the cherry table of the conservatory. With her short

square body, flat head and highlighted blonde hair she was bustling

around the table in brown clothes bought that morning in the DKNY

shop in Chester. She didn’t even turn to face him as she summarily

greeted her husband after his week working away from home.

“You’re late! If you are going to shower and change you need

to hurry up. Everyone is due in a quarter of an hour. Put the new

Prada things on that I’ve left out on the bed.” Jack was confused.

“Hello lovely, don’t I get a kiss and a cuddle then?” He walked

around the large table and received a quick peck on his left cheek as

she brushed past on her way back to the cutlery drawer. He smelt

the familiar ‘White Linen’ perfume that instantly turned on his

desire but he was dismissed before he could grab and kiss her lips.

“I can’t stop now; I need to get on Jack.” He could only

plaintively ask about his second emotional thought.

“So where’s Joseph?”

“I sent him to bed early so that he didn’t get overexcited by the

dinner party preparations. I didn’t want him late to bed.”

“And what about me? What about the importance of seeing

his Dad for the first time since last Sunday?”

“Precisely, he would have been overexcited by that as well.

You’ll see him tomorrow so he won’t miss you.”

“That’s very convenient Melanie. Bundle your son into bed

early so that it is easier to prepare things to impress your friends.”

Jack resented the bad welcome from his wife but more especially

no loving hugs from his son.

However she didn’t reply and he had no time to dwell on his

emotions or argue with her, so he went outside to fetch his bags

from the car before getting ready for the dinner party.

Now I understand your circumstances Jack so all you

have to do is listen to my story and follow me to relive

your past and create your future in Catalonia.

4

Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

The wind had risen as he opened the car boot and made him

shiver through his thin white shirt as he listened to the rustling

leaves left on his neighbour’s tall beech tree.

He looked up at the myriad of stars in the clear winter sky and

then sadly across to his son’s bedroom window.

“Night night Jojo, love you lots.” Turning back to the cottage

with shoulders bent he crunched his way laden with his heavy load

that was more emotional than physical.

That Friday evening six friends arrived at the Edmunson cottage

expecting the usual convivial dinner.

Including the hosts there were Peter and Bridget Edam, Jean

and Martin Shilling and Matt Diamond with his wife Harriet.

They were all long-term acquaintances who lived locally and had

been collected by Melanie over the previous ten years through

meeting the wives at pre-school events.

Melanie had been planning for days to ensure her ‘fab’

signature dish of vegetarian lasagne was perfect, but no real time

had been wasted out of her busy social schedule as the ingredients

had arrived via Ocado’s home delivery service.

Jack was slightly tipsy when the guests arrived politely late. The

need for a drunken stupor was brought on early by another nagging

session shortly after the cool welcome home. This time it was about

the choice of clothes he wanted to wear after his power shower in the

Matki designer cubicle. Always brand names had to be used in the

Cheshire set with a cheap Mira never good enough.

“You can’t possibly wear that brown belt with those trousers

Jack.” Melanie expressed her disgust in a very clipped and exacting

voice, clicking the ‘ack’ part of Jack off the top of her palate to

emphasise he was doing wrong. Her husband was perplexed; half

his clothes weren’t even stored in their bedroom so as to make way

for all of hers and so he was still choosing.

“Well, I thought my Mulberry shirt, Church boots and Louis

Feraud jacket would look nice with this belt?” She stood with her

hands on her expensively clothed hips.

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“For God’s sake man. Are you colour blind? Even Joseph

would do better than that.”

Her tired partner chipped back. “Okay Melanie, I’d go and

ask him but he’s asleep.”

“Look,” she said, “wear a black belt and the Hugo Boss boots

with the Prada jacket and you’ll look ‘fab’.”

Jack slunk away to change into exactly as instructed, thinking it

was like being dressed as her Barbie Doll but not wanting another

fight. They were just clothes after all. He was hoping to keep the

peace until bed time to see if he could persuade her to have a quick

shag before his bollocks burst with all the pent up semen in them.

He quietly went downstairs, to avoid waking Joseph, defeated by his

wife for the second time in half an hour. He remembered their first

few months together when she was kind and sensitive as he battled

with the depression caused by his first wife leaving him for his best

friend. Number one had told him on Valentine’s night and left

him on Good Friday with his two young children waving goodbye

through the back window of her car. So Melanie was convenient.

Young, slim and willing to have sex many times a day. A shoulder

to cry on and a friend for socialising to avoid the loneliness, but

he knew it was wrong even then. However, convenience is what

most people are happy to accept in a relationship and his lack of

courage and her intense desire to snare a rich husband had kept

them together.

The new kitchen area looked resplendent with its oak beams and

blue painted island unit. The Emma Bridgewater china at twenty-

seven pounds a plate sat ready on the exorbitantly priced granite,

specially selected and cut in front of Melanie somewhere in the

depths of Birmingham. A small sample would never have been

good enough for her to choose from and a trip to Italy would have

been preferred but Jack could put his foot down in extreme cases.

The stone was black but if you looked closely at the right angle

you could see random blue eyes stare back at you.

The lump had changed to match her husband’s attire and

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Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

appeared dressed in black to make her look thinner. She always

wore trousers since their marriage although a miniskirt would have

looked grotesque.

“I see you have got yourself a beer then. Did you even think

about getting a drink for me?”

Jack was admonished for the third time since arriving home

and silently hurried to open a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon

Blanc as the door bell chimed.

The first arrivals were Jean and Martin.

“Mister Edmunson!” Jean stepped into the kitchen from the

porch and kissed him lightly on the lips whilst staring into his eyes

as a deliberate tease. Jean could be summed up in three ways.

Wild hair, wild thoughts and wild clothes courtesy of the expensive

Morgan shop in Chester.

Just three of Melanie’s friends addressed Jack formally. He

often wondered why and had vainly concluded that it was to

reinforce the physical boundaries whilst giving a sexual tease. ‘You

are married keep your cock in your pants’, but each one of them

would always kiss him sexily on the lips or hug him close, pushing

their breasts or groin into him as a temptation, a flirt without

possibilities but this was only when their husbands couldn’t see.

This discreet sexual behaviour was used to reinforce their closeted

need to feel sexy that is a basic ‘Britishness’ never shared by those

from the Mediterranean countries, who always lived their sexuality

rather than hiding it away.

However, one of the friends who called him Mister was Bridget

and she was different in Jack’s mind. The hug always lingered

when she manoeuvred to get ahead or behind her husband on

arrival. It was a sensitive touch and was charged with electricity

that made them both breathless. Then she would excitedly smile

into his eyes reinforcing that theirs was more than a friendship.

Jean pulled away from him with a squeeze to his hip and an

outstretched thumb resting lightly on his groin to reveal her husband

Martin. He had always hidden behind his wild wife in every way

since they were married. He was a typical tax inspector, boring,

never leaving the telly in his spare time and never missing a game

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of televised football especially if it was Man United. Martin and

Jean had been introduced to them by Bridget who was a close friend

of Jean since their children went to a privileged school together at

the Grange. They had always accompanied each other at school

functions as they represented the face of poverty in the parents

at the expensive school. It was ‘the’ school where you sent bright

children and the not so clever were always found an alternative but

with a plausible excuse from their parents. Sometimes it was the

child’s dyslexic behaviour or their love of rugby or in fact any excuse

implying that the school wasn’t suitable for their ‘thick’ child. So the

bright Shillings and Edams went to the Grange and their relatively

poor parents spent their money on education and did without the

rest of the pretentiousness like the Rolexes and Lexus four-wheel

drives. The latter were inevitably driven by the non-working

mothers, were powder blue in colour and specifically bought for

the half mile of ‘off-road’ lane that reached to their husband’s large

mortgage with its ten acres and a pony.

As Jean stepped further into the kitchen to be greeted by Melanie,

Jack watched her pert bottom swaying to entice him and secretly

envied his best friend Peter, assuming he was having a hidden affair

with Jean because of their constant and overt flirting, but as Peter

constantly quoted, “A secret is only a secret if you tell it nobody.”

Jack took that as an affront because it even applied to sharing things

with his supposed best male friend. He stopped his pondering and

took Martin’s proffered woollen overcoat.

“Hi Martin, what sort of a week have you had?”

“Oh you know, so so, not bad, you know.” The non-assertive

answer came back to kill any potential conversation but that was

Martin’s character. Bland and boring, a typical taxman who was

excited by his figures and ecstatic at every budget.

The tall blonde figure of the beautiful Bridget suddenly

appeared behind Martin and so Jack quickly pushed the quiet man

towards Melanie to concentrate on the lovely Bridget. But he was

too late as her husband Peter ran in through the half open door

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Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

behind them. The rough diamond pushed past his demure wife

and asked coarsely.

“Hey Edmunson, how’s it hanging mate?”

“Frankly pal, it was great until you turned up.” Jack was

sincere in his response as he’d only managed a quick cheek to

cheek kiss with Bridget before he took all of their coats upstairs

to lay them on his much sought after brand name bed from The

White Company.

Doctor Matt Diamond and his wife Harriet arrived half an hour

later.

He had been called into surgery at the Crewe General Hospital

after yet another car smash on the A51.

Short and stocky with thick horn-rimmed glasses, you would

place him as boring but Jack got on well with him, sharing his love

of sports, fine wines, fast cars and hi-tech gadgets. Jack shook

hands warmly.

“How are you Matt?” The consultant smiled and was happy

to see his friend again.

“All the better for a glass of red, old chap, and if you want

to crack open this fifteen-year-old claret we can relax into some

luxury. You know I’ve had this lying offshore for so many years I

thought it had gone into tax exile! Bloody good idea hey Martin?”

Matt went over to shake hands with Mister Boring.

“Oh yes, you know, not bad I suppose. Less tax is good yes.”

Martin sat on the fence with his reply as always. All of the three

men laughed together as Matt then moved on to kiss Melanie.

Matt’s better half or in fact better eighty per cent had quietly

lagged behind her husband as usual.

“Well Soul Shiner, have you had a good week too?” Jack was

entranced as he greeted Harriet. She had an air about her that was

soulful, and living on a higher plane compared to everyone else in

their circle of friends.

“I’m fantastic Jack my poppet but did you see the news about

the Pakistani earthquake – wasn’t it horrible?” She gave him a

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wholesome and genuine hug. “And how are you poppet?” She

stroked his right arm with her left hand lying gently on his right

shoulder.

“I’m always fantastic too,” replied Jack “it’s just everyone else

that’s not.” She laughed and looked with concern into his dark

green eyes to read behind the bravado. She had always considered

how hard it must be working away from home and the lack of

reality in a hotel without his family to relax with each evening.

“Jack, I bought this fantastic print yesterday by Ray Woodard

Fairchild. Have you heard of him? I can only say that the picture

looks fantastic in our lounge, it’s called Santa Maria Della Salute

and is a picture of a church in Venice linked with stories about the

Holy Grail. It’s so fantastic! You must come down to the house

tomorrow and see it poppet.”

You never knew how to reply to Harriet, whether it was

the painting, the potential visit or the use of her constant and

embarrassing endearment towards him but by the time Jack had

floated by on her wave of soulfulness, she had moved on to Melanie

and was into something else fantastic which became ‘fab’ in each

of Melanie’s replies. Harriet herself was fantastic which is why he

called her Soul Shiner.

She was a red-headed beauty with streaks of grey hair at

forty one. Short to match her husband, she was always happy

between bouts of extreme caring. Nothing meant more to her

than art and the events in the World. If she saw a tragedy like the

tsunami as on the previous Boxing Day, she lived and breathed

it through the souls of the victims as if she were there in spirit.

That was why everyone loved and respected her because she was

genuine and never changed her approach with anyone no matter

how badly they treated her.

The smoked salmon starters were consumed with a glass of

Moet et Chandon to many ‘fantastics’, ‘fabs’, ‘so so’ and ‘not too

bads’ and the generalities of children, schools and work. These

day to day issues were always essential to digest before the main

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Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

course when polite niceties could give way to more relaxed fun.

Melanie’s vegetarian lasagne was hefted to the table in its giant

Bridgewater dish full of enough pasta to feed the party twice

over. The very concept of a signature dish which was renowned

far and wide in Cheshire worried Jack. It was a delight but

he always asked himself why you can’t enjoy your friends for

friendship and eat normally rather than trying to out do or in

this case out ‘sign’ everyone invited?

Even the new kitchen looked perfect with no sign of any

cooking remaining.

The boys were feeling argumentative after a few glasses of claret

and as always the girls seemed happy to drive home, although Peter

and Bridget only needed to stagger around the corner.

The first personal salvo came from Melanie and continued the

cold welcome home. She felt that she had cleaned up behind Jack

since his arrival in ‘her house’ where he was disturbing her routine.

“Bridget. I don’t know about you but sometimes I wonder

whether it’s just Jack or is it all men? They seem incapable of

putting the toilet seat down, don’t they?”

“Yeah yeah yeah,” Jack intoned. She carried on remorselessly

as Bridget remained politely quiet.

“Bridget, is it all men who in the dead of every single night

seem to miss the toilet completely and pee on the tiled floor?”

Melanie was smiling sadistically but Jack couldn’t let that one go.

“Well who put white tiles on the new ensuite floor for goodness

sake? It’s asking for trouble. At least the carpet used to soak it

all up before. Anyway, I’m usually so drunk I have to stagger in

and sit on the sodding toilet before I fall over and so it must be

your fault for standing on the seat and pretending to be a man.”

The other boys laughed seeing Melanie as a touch manly in her

aggressive ways.

“You must find going to the bog a bit wearing Edmunson,”

chimed in Peter. “Let’s face it at your age you are so incontinent

you must go ten times a night.” Jack smirked.

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“That’s not incontinence mate that’s cystitis from having too

much sex.”

“In your ‘effing’ dreams,” said Melanie laughing with her girl

friends. Jack tantalised her.

“Well, just think, at least you don’t have to put up with me

much longer Melanie. Do you realise that statistically speaking

I only have sixteen years left to live and you have got thirty-

two? That means sixteen more years of hard graft for me and

one hundred and ninety two shags.” Peter, his straight man,

dived in.

“If you are lucky wanker.” It didn’t matter whether it was him

or Jack who used the expletive as they just alternated it randomly

with ‘tosser’ as a friendly greeting. Jack continued drunkenly.

“That means just five more shags when I’m on top. That’s sad

hey boys! If I’m lucky, Melanie will die first so I can be buried last

and have the pleasure of sharing her grave but at least I would be

on top forever.”

Melanie wasn’t laughing as she responded but everyone else

thought it was funny.

“Well, Jack I need to change my will and make sure I am

cremated then.”

The girl boy verbal tennis had barely started. It was the pattern

of most nights when they all sat with excess food, booze and the

same friends in the dining conservatory next to the new kitchen.

“All men need is a hole to fill,” said Jean as an aside to Bridget.

Jack overheard and looked over at Bridget and questioned whether

she was his Soul Mate, his true love out of the two point eight

billion women on the Earth. He couldn’t resist Jean’s jibe and

had to respond.

“Some men have got in touch with their feminine side and are

not as insensitive as you make out Jean. Men might need a hole to

put their dick into but what they really need is a woman who will

pretend that they love their man and appreciate their dick rather

than pour scorn on it. A man needs to feel wanted occasionally

whereas women need true love all of the time. They want pink

clouds and they have a need that only other women can interpret.

12

Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

That’s the emotional difference. But of course I am extremely well

in touch with my feminine side.”

She leaned back in amazement at his tirade before commenting.

“Well that’s nice to know Jack. I am almost impressed but why do

you feel you are so in touch with it?”

“Well, when I am reincarnated I have told God that I want to

come back to Earth as a woman.”

“Really?” Jean was amazed and gullible at the same time.

“Yes Jean and then I can spend all day feeling my tits.” Jean

smiled thinly and put him in his place.

“Trust me that is just your age Jack.”

“Oh God Edmunson,” Peter slapped the wooden table top

“that is so bad but of course you also know there is another

symptom of getting old.”

“Is that right tosser, what’s that then?” Jack was also a good

straight man.

“It’s when your sperms lose their wiggles wanker.”

“Is that right mate? So how do you know that?”

“Well Jack, I tend to find that it makes her less likely to

throw up.”

A leftover piece of ciabbatta flew from Bridget’s hand towards

her husband’s head as she tossed a comment to go with it.

“That day will never come in our house!” Peter skilfully

ducked the flying bread before replying.

“Well, perhaps I will have to make do with anal sex whilst

you’re asleep then Bridget.” She wagged her third finger to

admonish him.

“In that case I will start to sleep on my back!”

Jack’s flippancy couldn’t be stopped by the spectre of Melanie

bringing in some original Cartmel sticky toffee pudding brought

from Bridget’s farm shop earlier that day. As she placed it on

the table he said, “Well, you know me boys. I don’t want to be

controversial, but girls are completely useless at sex without one

hundred per cent emotional involvement. On top of that, they are

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so physically driven by their hormones that all blokes may as well

understand the facts of the matter right now.”

The boys stared expectantly at Jack as he continued and then

glanced uncomfortably at their partners.

“They take one week of their cycle building up to their period,

one week building down from the period, one week on the period

and that leaves just one week where they are interested in sex. In

that one week that they are interested, you have to catch them on

that one day that they are voracious and demanding, avoiding the

two days that they have a headache and leaving five days you can’t

have sex because they are ‘tired’. Are you with me boys?”

“No Jack,” they all responded except Martin who corrected him.

“Four days not five, I think, you know, possibly.”

“Right Martin,” he carried on “remember in those four days,”

he glanced at Martin and got a nod back “when they are ‘tired’,

you are bound to be away on business one night and she’s bound

to be out with the girls on another. That leaves just two days left.

On one of them, you have gotten up at five in the morning to go to

a systems meeting in Glasgow and then driven a further five hours

to get back at eight in the evening and are therefore so knackered

you can barely blow your nose never mind blow your woman!”

The boys were all choking back their laughter by now as it

was so true in their own lives but behind closed doors and never

discussed even with their mates.

“That means you only have one day a month when you can

have average sex and one day when it’s excellent, that’s provided

the kids aren’t ill!”

“Hah bloody hah!” Melanie wasn’t impressed as she spooned

out the ice cream and attacked the weakest member of the group.

“It’s a bit like your financial periods then Martin isn’t it?

All action over just two days and pure drudgery in between. You

know we could use your expertise to save us some money at the

moment. Jack and I have a joint account you know, he puts it in

and I take it out.”

Thirty all in the verbal tennis match. The spin on the serve

was increased by her next comment.

14

Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

“Or looking at it another way, what is mine is my own and what

is his, is mine as well.”

Forty thirty to the girls. Jack vainly tried to mitigate the attack.

“I agree wholeheartedly that if I put it in, you keep taking it

out and that applies to my dick as well as my money.”

Martin always perked up when listening in to any conversation

about sex because he only had intercourse three times a year at most.

“I seriously believe you know, that girls dress up for each other

and not for other blokes. It’s just a competition to keep their man

and prove to the other girls at any function that they can retain

their hunter gatherer. Just basic animal instincts dressed up to woo

and kill. Man is the hunter gatherer and is out there obtaining the

money, riding round looking at the other hunters and comparing

weapons whilst the woman looks after the cave. Metaphorically,

that means we chaps look around at the size and type of our

opponent’s car. So for example, a sharp dagger is a Golf GTI and

a sword is a Jaguar XK.”

Matt interrupted. “Well that explains why women drive GTI’s

and why they keep running into the back of my ‘Jag’.”

Deuce. As the night passed towards midnight and the ‘Taylors’

thirty-year-old port was handed around the table the conversation

became more extreme, provoked by the host.

“I don’t want to be controversial but! I have a theory called

‘why men can’t listen and why women can’t read maps’ that’s by

me of course.” Jack slurred as he spoke. “Or men are from Mars

and women are from Venus by John Gray, that’s not by me, that’s

by a woman calling himself a man. What the hell did his Mother

do to him to make him demean men so much?” The boys nodded

sagely without comment as they were confused by the genders

thrown at them by the drunk who slurred on. “Quite frankly, we

don’t need a guide to relationships and communicating with the

different species called women, you just get a Cray computer and

some coloured lights like in the film ‘Close Encounters of the Third

Kind’. If you can successfully talk to aliens well then you might

have a chance with women. Men and women are different and will

always abuse each other through these differences no matter how

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many women read that frigging book. Women seem to accept it

as a comic, joking at their man’s expense. If we all buy crap like

that and think the book is logical and sane then you would have to

conclude that Osama Bin Laden is a great leader of men.”

“Maybe he is Jack,” suggested Matt, “but believe everything

and believe nothing about him when reading a newspaper. They

can’t even find him now, never mind know what he is thinking.

It’s all a pile of made up crap regurgitated from one paper to

another but usually slipped a couple of days forward. Absolute,

unbelievable crap.” Matt believed there was a Government

conspiracy theory on all major events and that ‘the people’ never

got more than five per cent of the truth, especially from the Daily

Mail that sold exceedingly well to the ladies of the Cheshire set sat

around the table. Morose Matt emptied the fourth bottle of red

wine and quietly pondered his supposed truths about ‘Al Qaeda’

which he read in his daily Times.

Martin filled in the gap in the conversation. He had a friend

at work, just the one, who sometimes helped him back into ‘Real

Life’ from his constant taxing misery by sharing an odd joke. He

butted in whilst staring at Soul Shiner to obtain her reaction.

“Did you see the news yesterday about that dreadful earthquake

in Pakistan?” Soul Shiner looked horrified.

“Yes Martin, wasn’t it terrible?”

“Awful, Harriet,” Martin said in mock revulsion and horror.

“You know despite all of that devastation, I hear that IKEA are

opening a new store in Islamabad shortly.”

“Really? That doesn’t seem right,” she said innocently.

“Yes, it specialises in flat pak furniture.”

All the boys and the boys alone laughed at the racist joke

as they belonged to the white county of Cheshire where it was

deemed acceptable. Martin was happy with his single borrowed

and rehearsed joke and the kudos would satisfy his non-assuming

character for the rest of the year. More importantly he had gained

‘street cred’ from the boys by standing up to the girls but none

of them raised any concerns about racism which was endemic in

the Cheshire set. Matt was determined to be the funniest though.

16

Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

“Melanie, I walked into a pet shop in Knutsford the other day

and saw a ‘fab’ parrot with no feet or legs. I said, Jesus what ever

happened to you? ‘I was born this way, I’m a defective parrot’.

What? You understood me?

‘Yes and before you ask I use Mister Wiggly to hang onto

the perch’.

Wow, you would be good fun to have as a bit of one-upmanship

at dinner parties.

‘But sir, I can also speak Spanish and English, am an expert

in philosophy, politics and the premier league and would be

a great companion rather than an object to show off to your

friends.’

Too true parrot and with that I bought him. You know Melanie,

I spent weeks talking to that bird until one day when I got home it

said to me in its squawky voice.

‘I don’t know whether I should tell you this but it’s about your

wife Harriet and the Ocado delivery man.’

What are you talking about parrot? Needless to say, I was

shocked Melanie!

‘When the delivery man came today your wife greeted him at

the door in a sheer black nightie.’”

Matt hesitated and Melanie couldn’t resist the stupid question.

“What happened then?”

He continued in a parrot squawk, almost a parrot phrase.

“‘Well, the delivery man came into the hall and lifted her

nightie and started sucking her nipples.’

Oh no parrot what happened then?

‘I’ve got no idea,’ said the parrot ‘I got a hard on and fell off

the perch.’”

Game set and match to the boys.

“Yes!” Jack and Peter shouted raising their arms in unison.

“That was fucking hilarious.”

“We need to go I’m afraid Melanie my love.” Bridget apologised

as they hit one in the morning.

“My Mother is house sitting to make sure the girls don’t trash

the place in our absence.”

17

The Sun Sharer

Jack asked Peter how he got on with his mother-in-law who

lived close and was in their home ten times a day.

“You know Jack, I can’t keep her out but I think it causes

Bridget more problems than me.”

Jack consoled him. “Peter, your mother-in-law in comparison

to mine is a positive angel mate.”

“You are joking?” Peter looked surprised.

“Of course not. Yours is an angel but I’m not so lucky because

my mine is still alive.”

Not quite the thing to say at the end of an evening as he knew

he would face the wrath of her daughter later.

“Who cares,” he thought.

As the dinner party died a natural death, they all felt

vindicated in their positions. The girls never took any of it

seriously, the boys got seriously drunk and it was only Jack who

took everything in and analysed what was said between the

different couples.

As they milled around the kitchen he demanded an answer but

was ignored because of the impending departures.

“The most important thing in life is to feel emotional about

something and not to go through life and avoid any commitment.

It doesn’t matter about the subject. It can be your wife, following

your football team or stuff you might see as boring like stamp

collecting. You should never judge people based on your own

values, ideals and interests it’s just not fair.” Jack was on his

pet subject, maybe on a high horse, maybe it was the truth. He

repeated Peter’s often used refrain in a sad drunken tone. “Life’s

a bitch and then you die or maybe you just marry one.”

The odd assembly quickly dispersed to return to their own

private battlegrounds whilst Jack’s was spilling out into every

successive dinner party.

The friends never told their friends the whole truth, leaving

drunken Jack to contemplate his own pile of shit over a final glass

of red.

* * *

18

Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

Melanie was waiting for him upstairs as the unwitting fly staggered

into her trap.

Sitting patiently on the side of the bed, she was still wearing

her new DKNY clothes and had not started taking her makeup

off. She stood and walked across to him as he entered the creamy

coloured satin bedroom.

“Do you fancy a cuddle then?”

It wasn’t subtle but as she started to kiss him and undo the

buttons on his grey Mulberry shirt his cock became instantly erect.

Apart from one guilty and unsatisfying wank he had not had sex

for over a week. He didn’t fancy her but as Jean had said earlier,

men just need a hole to fill. Jack pulled her blouse over her head

and fumbled with her bra.

“Let me do that.” She took over and her small droopy tits

dropped onto her chest.

As he leant forward and started to suck them, he thought the

only good thing about them were the large brown nipples which

were now erect and requiring delicate licking. He quickly shoved

his hand into the crotch of her black trousers and moved it around

before sliding it upwards and fumbling for the belt.

“Let me do that.” Again she took control and slid her trousers

down her chunky muscled legs.

Jack shoved his hand under the lace panties and felt her wet

cunt, sliding two fingers deep inside and using his thumb to rub

her proud clitoris. Melanie moaned slightly.

“Do you want to do this as well Melanie or should I just carry

on my way?”

“God that’s ‘fab’” and she dragged his face up to hers to shove

her tongue into his mouth.

As she swirled her hot tongue around his, she undid his flies

and put both hands on his dick. Manipulating it with her left hand

by pulling the foreskin gently up and down she used the other to

fondle his bollocks. She turned him towards the bed and pushed

him back. Pulling down his trousers together with his pants she

fed them over his ankles and dropped them on the best Berber

before placing both hands on his strong thighs and starting to

19

The Sun Sharer

suck his hot red cock, holding it upright and away from his body

to increase his pleasure.

“Jesus.” Jack exclaimed in frustration.

It was too long to go without; he needed sex every day now

and felt his sexual appetite was as great as in his late teens and

early twenties. Melanie stopped sucking as she tasted a tiny leak

of spunk. There was no way she would or had ever sucked him off

and taken his spunk into her mouth as he came. Jack momentarily

thought about that rejection as she pulled off her own pants and

sat astride him using her fingers to locate and then shove his cock

up her.

“Back off a bit Melanie, I’m nearly coming. It’s too risky hey?”

Jack worried about babies.

“Does it matter?” she said disingenuously as she started to

ride him.

“Of course it does!” Jack panted as he thrust upwards and

pulled her arse towards him to feel his prick bump into the top of her

vagina and his heavy balls hit the cheeks of her arse as they slapped

in a fast rhythm. Melanie was breathing quickly as she reached over

to the side table and took out a Durex in an orange packet.

“Put this on, I just need the loo.” She dropped the packet on

his chest and heaved herself off him to thump away across the floor.

“Fuck,” he thought, “every fucking time we make love she has

to go to the fucking toilet.”

By the time she came back into the bedroom from the white

tiled ensuite, he was leaning against the pillows mounted against

the headboard but his prick was limp. She started to suck and

manipulate him again and it took Jack another five minutes to get

his cock erect. He rolled the Durex on whilst she glanced at the

alarm clock impatient to go to sleep. Her demeanour reduced

some of his stiffness as did putting the ‘johnny’ on. It didn’t boost

his manliness as she sat on top of him again and started to move

quickly rubbing hard with her pubic hair and clitoris against the

base of his dick.

“Hold my arse,” she moaned. “Oh God that’s ‘fab’,” and thrust

again and again until she shuddered with her orgasm.

20

Tettenhill. The beginning of the end.

Smiling she rolled off him and lay on her back, opening her

legs and manipulating his body and mind.

“Come on, your turn now.”

Jack pulled himself on top of her and pushed his hard prick

inside. She closed her legs and thighs together as he started to

thrust up and down and tucked his head into her neck. Bringing

his face to hers he stuck his tongue in her mouth and moved it

in and out to the rhythm of his cock. Every time they made love

now he kept his eyes closed and thought he was kissing Bridget.

That’s why the orgasm was delayed despite his desperate need

to come quickly. It was pure guilt but he climaxed eventually

and shuddered, arching his back by pushing both arms straight

either side of her head on the pillow. His eyes remained closed

and carefully watched by the predatory spider he rolled off and

took his prick out. They had long gone past multiple orgasms

and keeping his prick inside her to make her feel loved. The

animal in both of them was satisfied even if their spirits weren’t

and so Jack rolled off the bed and went into the ensuite to dump

the Durex down the toilet and quickly wash his balls, which were

smarting from her acidic juices. Looking into the mirror above

the washbasin he stared at himself and felt dirty and used. He

washed the outside of his mouth and chin with soap and boiling

water as hot as he could bear to avoid little white spots around

his mouth in the morning.

The bedside lamps were both already darkened when he closed

the ensuite door, flicking the light off with the external switch but

still leaving him naked and vulnerable.

He felt his way to his side of the bed in the absolute darkness

and jumping in he immediately turned his back to her as they

both welcomed their mattress edges as far apart as they could

possibly be.

No goodnights were lovingly spoken nor were any gentle kisses

exchanged and so they both drifted off to sleep with their personal

and unshared thoughts.

21

7

12$#$4-8/.45$44

-"#$4."4+36$!

Jack Edmunson had been a bubbly boy at eight years old

who radiated tremendous warmth through his personality

and lived every day with an open and enquiring honesty that

people loved.

At night in his bed he had two reasons to hide his head under

the thin flannelette covers. The most practical was to avoid the

biting cold, as few homes had central heating in those days. The

second reason, which was much worse than the physical cold, was

the dread but freezing fear of someone imagined at the bottom of

the bed, waiting to pounce on him.

He always pictured a blue ‘U’ on his forehead shaped like a

horseshoe to protect him from the Evil that threatened to come

into his bedroom. He was positive that this would work as his Dad

had explained graphically how Dennis Wheatley’s heroes had used

the symbol in the book ‘When the Devil Rides Out’ and he trusted

his Dad without question.

In the last few minutes before slipping into sleep he would

peek out from under the quilted sheets. On the ceiling he could

see his Crusader’s sword which was also in a safe spiritual blue

and created by the outside light slanting in through the gap in the

blue curtains. Protected by a magical sword and the power of the

‘U’ he would keep his head above the covers and in a last sleepy

moment he knew he would pass the night without harm, accepting

22

There must be more to life?

Nim who stood at the bottom of the bed because that’s what eight-

year-olds can do.

Now forty-nine years old he remembered those nights as he woke

early on the Saturday morning after the party.

He blinked his hangover at the sword on the ceiling, caused by

the slight chink of light working its way between the curtains of the

cottage in Tettenhill. The village was in a pretty part of Cheshire

with his local pub The Pheasant Inn just behind his rear garden

and all nestling at the foot of the secret valley called Dingle Dell.

It was only six am and he was already alert and unable to relax in

the matrimonial bed. A dark mass stirred beside him and settled

on her back, emitting a stinking fart at the same time. His wife

started to snore loudly through her wide open mouth, irritating

him to the core.

“What the fuck am I doing here?” he said inwardly as he slid

out of bed and grabbed his dressing gown to go downstairs. As he

quietly closed their bedroom door he met Joseph on the landing

at the top of the stairs. His blond son, tall for his six years, was

standing still and looking guiltily at his Dad for getting up earlier

than commanded by the lump. Jack signed for him to remain

silent with a single forefinger in front of his lips and the pair crept

downstairs to happily and secretly share the early morning alone.

So on that Saturday morning there was a regulation family of

three, part of the Cheshire set, living not too far from Tarporley,

that is pronounced as ‘Tar poor lee’ when one moves in the right

circles of middle class Cheshire.

After a quick hug and a whispered good morning Joseph sped off

to watch TV in the day room, but as always Jack paused by the

lounge door in trepidation. He felt someone or something was

lurking inside whenever he was at home and when the door had

been closed for the night he could always see in his mind an old

man sitting on the sofa at the far end of the room.

23

The Sun Sharer

“Don’t be stupid.” Jack talked to himself a lot these days, “just

go in. Nothing can hurt you.”

He fearfully pushed open the door and forced himself to look

at the empty sofa. There was never anyone there but as he walked

towards it he felt the cold in the centrally heated room and assumed

it was because of the large inglenook chimney letting the warm air

escape. Quickly, he turned to walk out but he shivered, feeling

someone looking at his back as he quickly closed the panelled

pine door.

Good morning Jack.

You can see and talk to me if you try.

You have the power and the knowledge but need to

lose your fear of the unknown and embrace your past.

It is your time once again and you know you cannot

deny me.

It was only the previous weekend he had sat with his Mother

on the same sofa talking about spiritualism after a family lunch.

He couldn’t remember why she had brought the subject up but

she had been in that very spot. The cottage had been spiritually

health checked by dowsing when they had moved in by their new

‘friend’ from down the road, who successfully practised expensive

dowsing, acupuncture and herbal remedies on the rich of the

area. The exact place where the imagined man supposedly sat

showed a deep trough in the Earth’s magnetic field due to the

opposing forces of two local ley lines. No matter what magical

magnetometer machines were plugged in and left in that place

they would not budge the negative energy field, and so it remained,

a black stream caused by the rocks deep beneath the cottage or

juxtaposition in the invisible magnetic field. The theories about

ley lines were endless and all unproven. They reputedly followed

straight paths and many cultures around the world also presumed

that spirits or ghosts could only travel in a straight direction. This

place on the sofa was predicted to affect one’s health if sat in for

long periods and was therefore studiously avoided by Jack and

24

There must be more to life?

actively disbelieved by Melanie, although Jet the black cat seemed

to lie there all the time.

“Your Grandma George was a spiritualist Jack,” Mother

shakily got the words out of her mouth. She seemed more fragile

every time they saw her and always more forgetful about recent

events. Gone were the days of the strong beautiful woman who

managed two jobs, the house, her two sons and Dad.

“She used to have a giant poster of a Navajo Indian Chief

above her bed and called him her spirit guide.”

“A Navajo Indian Man or Nim for short then Mum,” replied

Jack with an uncomfortable laugh.

He ignorantly believed in spirits, spooks and the afterlife

but knew nothing about any of it and until recently had avoided

anything to do with it. He felt so worried about the unknown that

he could never face watching films about black magic or Evil in

case he became possessed. He knew it was stupid believing in

Good versus Bad spirits at nearly fifty years old but his mind had

started to gravitate towards learning more about this grey area over

the last few weeks, as if pushed by an unknown mentor.

Saturday was the in-between day.

In between Friday night when Joseph usually welcomed him

home from his working week away and Sunday afternoon by which

time Jack felt at home, loved and wanted by his family again; that

is until the evening when mentally and physically he prepared for

his next week away in a hotel.

Joseph sat on his Dad’s lap in a pretty flower-patterned

armchair with Jack’s arms clutched around him. As Joseph watched

a repeat of Blue Peter on the television Jack went through his

mental list voiced by Melanie the evening before.

“The kitchen tap won’t stop dripping, the seeds I bought need

planting, my car needs cleaning, can you go and buy yourself some

meat as I don’t eat meat and anyway I haven’t got time as I have

to prepare our food.”

The list was never-ending and the tone always relentless.

25

The Sun Sharer

There was never a please or a thank you. Never a warm cuddle

or a light touch to share and dissolve the stress from the week’s

work. Just a constant me on me deluge of jobs driven by his wife

Melanie’s agenda. On most weekends he felt like a stranger walking

into his own house, the house he paid for and maintained with his

hard work. The expected love not being given anymore as she

lived life in La La land with her Cheshire set friends doing lunch,

coffee, gym, shopping or any equally unproductive thing that cost

money whilst putting less effort into any form of work but worse

still into maintaining their married life.

She pretended that her values had changed and that their

shared marital ethics as a couple who ‘worked hard and played

hard’ were not vital anymore, but she had just got lazy and too

comfortable in the one-sided relationship and togetherness was

now a forgotten trait. Whenever Jack dared to broach this subject

of changed values and her lack of action, there was always a reason

why something had not been done and the reason was always

somebody else’s fault.

“Yes, well I know I didn’t take that cheque to the bank but

your Mother called and the school car park was a nightmare so

I lost a lot of time on the way to the gym. Anyway, what does a

week matter?”

“It matters a lot Melanie. A five thousand pound cheque

matters when it stops our joint account going into the red. It

matters that I asked you to do one thing this week whilst I was away

and you couldn’t be bothered in the five days you had to do it.”

Jack always seemed to be pissed off with her and this was

increasing every week he returned to Tettenhill as he felt homeless

and less loved.

“Well, I may be able take it to the bank on Monday and put

myself out for you. It’s not my fault that things happen.” A lame

reply and a symptom of the lack of respect she exhibited more and

more when their paths crossed at the weekends. Even these two

brief days she deemed hers after her ‘hard week’ and so Jack was

given all the responsibilities for their son so that she could relax.

He happily took on the task but didn’t enjoy everything to her

26

There must be more to life?

agenda as he was made to fit into her life as a temporary visitor

to be tolerated.

She was losing the respect that he knew was essential to

maintain in a good marriage, no matter how difficult it becomes.

Joseph squirmed on his lap and he hugged him tighter. His boy

was sensitive and caring with a warm personality that immediately

attracted friends in his peers and praise from adults. However,

he had part of his personality, a deep place that Jack knew his boy

never shared, that aligned him with his father and that worried

his Dad because of the strange and consistent pressures that were

building inside of him.

Jack’s prick got hard thinking about his lack of sex and the poor

attempt made the night before and so to cover his embarrassment

from his boy he got up to make coffee from his automatic Miele

machine. Another waste of money and a further complication in his

life but ‘names, names, names’, always expensive and fashionable

brand names ruled their lives. The Miele coffee machine whirred

to grind the fresh beans until an error message came up: ‘Please

clean the main filter.’

“For fuck’s sake,” he said under his breath so Joseph couldn’t

hear. “You’ve had your stupid friends round to talk about curtain

fabrics or paint colours, drunk your cappuccinos and can’t even

be bothered to clean up after yourself, you lazy fucking cow.”

Every little thing seemed hard work today, partly because of

the Friday night wine but also because of the release of tension

after his work. He had spent all week grafting on a big IT project

in Rosset, Bedfordshire for putting together a new system for

the buyers and he felt good about what he had achieved. He

knew he would be contracting there for a year or two and had

settled into the routine of being away from home all week and

commuting down to Rosset at five in the morning on Mondays

and then returning by eight on a Friday evening. Plans had

moved on and people were responding to him and so he felt

confident in himself.

27

The Sun Sharer

That was Jack, always responsible and motivated by his

achievements.

He took a swig of cool coffee to stir his mind as the machine

never made it hot. He sighed as he stared out of the kitchen

window at his beloved garden and yearned for the spring.

“I don’t know,” he sighed loudly again, “am I happy with all

of this? Ask a sane man and you may get a realistic and positive

response. Ask a fifty-year-old going on forty the same question

and you would end up writing a book. Maybe that’s what I

should do.”

“‘Fifty is the new forty: bollocks’ – the working title of a novel

by Jack George Edmunson.”

He went into his study and turned on the PC. With a wry smile,

he entered into the Google search engine ‘Navajo Indians’ as he

thought he might find out about the non-existent Nim who was

watching him from above.

“If Grandma George had Nim as a spirit guide maybe the same

one can help me too. Unless he’s dead of course!” He laughed

at his little joke and so did Nim, who was happy that another step

was being taken towards their meeting.

Google always worked but it took ten minutes to get what he

needed. He likened it to wanting a drink of water and holding a

glass under Niagara Falls. You always got too much and don’t have

the capacity to handle it. The screen blinked and settled.

‘Native Americans believed in the fifth World but we currently

inhabit the fourth World which will end at the winter solstice in

2012. The fifth World will arrive following a cycle in nature which

affects our Solar system. Our Earth will bear an egg which then

moves up within our space to reach its crowning place. Earth

will then be raised to its perfected eternal form. This is the point

of purification when time actually changes and we must choose

between natural time i.e. that we have now on Earth with its

opportunity to reach the fifth World and unnatural time which

takes us away from nature. You have to choose. The fifth World on

28

There must be more to life?

our Earth or the oblivion of the alternative removing us from this

planet. But ultimately this path to the fifth World will frighten most

people as it is the end of now and holds the terror of the unknown.’

You will understand and create the fifth World in your

new life in Catalonia when all will become clear.

“Like my contract job,” he thought whilst dismissing words

he couldn’t quite hear from the TV. “Change is too hard to

contemplate for most people at work but even more so at home.

Hence the convenience of marriage. You never meet your Soul

Mate; you just shack up with someone from the office or a girl

you met at school. I suppose that most marriages are convenient

and not true love. We are just weak human beings. Animals most

of the time, dog eat dog. We want a structure to feel wanted and

needed, believing we have a daily part to play as the bigger picture

is too scary.”

Melanie walked past the door. “Are you on that computer

again? You are always on it for hours.”

Jack grimaced. “Just doing my accounts lovely. It’s my job and

makes us money remember; I won’t be too long.”

He immediately switched to Liverpool Football Club’s website

until she went back upstairs to flop heavily onto the matrimonial

bed, with a thump that reverberated down to the study below.

“So where are you from Nim?” Nim talked back through his

Google search on the flickering screen.

We were created in Dinetah when a holy supreme

wind swirled the mists of light into the darkness.

These gave purpose to my holy people who are

supernatural and sacred in the three different lower

Worlds of air, water and Earth.

We lay inside creation and although we can take on

human forms we prefer to reside inside natural forces

creating nature itself.

We were proud to live with each other and we fought

29

The Sun Sharer

for supremacy until God told us to leave and live in

the fourth World.

The first Man and Woman were formed from the

ears of yellow and white maize and lived separately

not understanding each other’s contributions to life

and this allowed monsters to develop that will start

to kill people off through the length and breadth of

the next World.

Eventually man and woman shared their attributes

by joining in physical love and creating new life.

Two hero twins are our saviours, Monster Slayer and

the Child of the Waters and they protect us here in the

fourth World.

Jack was intrigued but scared by a disembodied spirit that

didn’t exist telling him so much about something he had never

heard of and so he wondered if it could be a hidden memory given

to him by his Grandmother.

“Tell me more Nim.”

We believe in iinaa ji the life or beauty way.

Almost the same word as energy Nim?” enquired Jack politely.

Yes but this means to live a long life through

happiness and so energy must help this.

It is family orientated, shaping a person for life and a

way of keeping creation and destruction balanced and

in harmony.

“That’s why marriage is a convenient structure then. What is

your Navajo name Nim?”

Johonaa ei or the sun bearer.

I carry the sun across the sky on my back and store it

in the west every night.

30

There must be more to life?

My power animates principle and purpose that resides

in the sun and gives life to all creation on the Earth.

“So if you exist where do you live Nim?”

I live in a Hogan with four posts representing the four

sacred mountains.

The floor is Mother Earth; the dome-like roof is

Father Sky.

We have four sacred objects and four sacred colours

representing your four cardinal directions.

To the east is the white morning sky symbolised by a

white shell.

To the south is blue and turquoise.

To the west is yellow symbolised by Abalone and to the

north is black and the stone you call Jet.

There is a place in the World in which you will soon

live and there are four sacred mountains.

This place you have already seen and you will be

drawn back very shortly.

“What?” Jack hadn’t read that bit. He glanced around him

searching for the voice that seemed to invade his space more often

recently. “What does Navajo mean Nim?”

It comes from the phrase Tewa Navahu meaning

highly cultivated lands.

We are not an old people on your Earth but we belong

here from the start of creation and lived in many

places in your World.

When the Almighty created this World he was a

formless existence seen as powerful through the sun.

This World is infinite and when you die you will have

a new existence in another part of the Almighty’s

Universe, so do not be afraid of life or death Jack as

you have been chosen.

31

The Sun Sharer

Just live every day as if it is the only day and your

best day.

Jack clicked the shut down button on the screen. He was

interested in what he had read, but scared about what he thought

he had heard from the fictitious Nim, but decided that the previous

night’s claret was clouding his brain.

Slumped in a chair next to Joseph, who remained entranced by the

TV, he rang his daughter Edima.

She lived near Meaux, east of Paris which was growing into

an expensive commuter area for the capital now that the new rail

links, including the one to Euro Disney, were up and running.

She had always been a handful for Jack but at thirty she seemed

to have settled down. The marriage break up to wife number one

had affected her more than his eldest son Rodney. A tall slim

blonde with eleven GCSEs, she had walked out of her A levels

somewhat diverted by her circle of friends and had followed her

Dad down to London to train as a physiotherapist. He could never

understand and was never close enough to know why this bright

slim girl managed to start lap dancing, take cocaine and borrow

money from loan sharks to feed the habit. As her Dad left her to

move to Manchester on a new contract, she proceeded to fail at her

second year exams, lose the plot completely by working in pubs

to provide free booze and quickly put on eight stones in weight.

Eventually in a mess she had reverted back to her Auntie’s home

to seek some sanity in her life.

But that was Jack’s problem, he was too far away and too

detached from his only daughter and always felt guilty about

it, using the excuse of being too busy to see or talk to her. The

reality was they had drifted apart after the divorce to number

one because Jack as usual had thrown himself at his work to be

perpetually busy.

Always busy and always trying to be successful to offset the

failure of his first marriage and now he was doing the same in his

32

There must be more to life?

second. When he was busy he didn’t think, as thinking was too

hard as his memories stretched into a past that he wasn’t prepared

to discover.

“This wedding, Edima. Are we having roast potatoes on the menu

or not? All blokes care about is the food. Not the place, not the

hotel reception room or colour of the bridesmaids’ dresses or even

the music to be played by the DJ. Just the food lovely.”

“Dad, stop joking with me,” his daughter was smiling at the

other end of the line. “Do you really want roasties then?”

“Anything you want lovely” Jack smiled back. “Anything to

make it your special day. But I am definitely interested in the

seating arrangements, so as to avoid wife number one or wife

number one’s husband and my ex best friend!” Edima laughed.

“Don’t worry, all that mess was years ago, just relax and chill

Dad.”

“I am always chilled Edima, it’s everybody else who isn’t.

For example, have I ever complained that you are marrying a

Frenchman who wears green and pink stripy shirts, eats snails and

has a better national football team than England?”

“Dad! You get worse you know. Is it anything to do with your

age or is it the battleaxe?”

The wedding was planned to take place in Meaux about two

weeks after Jack’s fiftieth birthday and although he was dreading

it because of a retreat into his old life, he also wanted to be there

for his beloved daughter.

“Is that Edima?” Melanie the battleaxe appeared on cue in

her misshapen dressing gown hiding a body built of walnuts and

ready to split the pink material in half like the Hulk. She always

interrupted every telephone conversation and put the handset on

loudspeaker or listened in on a spare one. Edima whispered down

the telephone avoiding the controlling female at Jack’s end.

“Good timing hey but I know it’s both. Poor you Dad, fifty

and married to that woman.” His daughter spat out the word ‘that’

as Melanie interrupted again.

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The Sun Sharer

“Ask her if she can reserve us a ‘fab’ suite in the hotel for the

wedding and get it confirmed in writing and then she can fax it to

you at work. Tell her we want a separate but adjoining bedroom

for Joseph and not close to the disco so that we can get some sleep.

Have you told her that?” Everyone was expected to run after

Melanie and cost didn’t come into any of her decisions. She was

a good organiser and had grown into this demanding style over the

last twenty years but not everyone liked the approach, especially

Jack who felt like he was six years old rather than fifty on the next

weekend.

Melanie shrieked from a few feet behind Jack’s ear causing

him to wince. “Did you get that Edima?” Jack and Edima sighed

together.

“Yes, Dad just say yes to her. Speak soon, love you lots, bye!”

A slightly deaf husband turned to face the blancmange oozing into

his sacred study.

“Melanie, I’m going for a quick jog, okay?” Jack was preparing to

slide past her to sprint up the stairs and put his kit on.

“You need to pop into Chester for me first,” came the reply.

“I need some food from M and S for tonight.”

“What? Why didn’t you get it yesterday when you shopped

there?”

Jack was annoyed but Melanie remonstrated. “I can’t think

of everything and anyway it will be fresher today. Whilst you are

there you may as well get some nice bread rolls and I also think we

have run out of toilet paper.” Melanie’s list continued without a

please or thank you as Jack quickly grabbed his wallet and car keys

before peering around the day room corner at his son.

“Joseph, when I get home do you fancy a game of soccer in

the garden mate?” Joseph rolled off his bean bag and briefly took

his eyes away from the television.

“Please Dad!” He returned his gaze to the TV.

“Okay, so go upstairs, get dressed and read a book and then

when I get back in an hour we can play. Okay?” Jack reinforced

34

There must be more to life?

it by pulling Joseph off the bean bag, turning him over and tickling

him before turning the TV off.

“See you soon mate, be ready!” Jack briefly stared at his son

who was still slumped on the best Wilton and pledged to spend

more time with him before it was too late. Joseph was putting on

too much weight, allowed by his Mum to chill rather than play in

the garden with his Dad or friends. Jack ruffled his boy’s hair and

rushed off, leaving Joseph to contemplate whether to turn the TV

back on or do as requested. Melanie’s strident voice cut short his

simplistic childhood thoughts.

“Joseph, get upstairs now! I’ve told you twice to go for a wash

and you also need to tidy your room today as it is Saturday. When

your Dad gets back he can do your homework with you,” and

Melanie carried on ordering the household around.

Joseph was tall for his age with a short Cromwell-style haircut,

a mere fifteen pounds a time at Jacob’s Finesse, his Mum’s

hairdresser in Chester. He was an intelligent child and because

he understood the game of Mum all week and Dad at weekends

he had decided at this early age to push them both to their limits

at all times.

“Can I just watch TV a bit longer Mum as Dad said so; it’s

halfway through the programme about blind dogs?”

“Guide dogs Joseph, for the blind, and the answer is upstairs

now!” Melanie growled at her son who slowly raised his body but

consoled himself by pressing Sky record for later viewing and the

fact that soccer was a good substitute if his Dad got his way. He

knew when to acquiesce to his Mum and wandered slowly upstairs.

“Brainless boys Joseph,” shrieked Melanie. “Girls are so much

easier to handle. My friend Bridget never has these problems and

she has four of them.”

Brainless boys and clever girls.

You can see it at a very early age and the boys carry on being

brainless even as they become men and then old men when they

revert to being boys again.

* * *

35

The Sun Sharer

A rugged face at the front door peered through the glass panels at

a still unwashed Joseph, now dressed in his favourite Man United

kit and sliding on his bottom down the steep central staircase.

“Nice kit mate. Far better than that rubbish team of your

Dad’s.” Joseph smiled back before shouting towards the kitchen

and then turned and ascended the stairs. “It’s Peter, Mum.”

Peter Edam kicked his muddy boots off at the back door and

walked into the pristine blue and oak coloured kitchen. He was

everything but pristine but vaguely had the same colour scheme in

his clothes. He was always dirty, with his jeans torn on one knee

and the top of his three layers looking as if they had been dragged

through a field. Even travelling in his old grey diesel car was like

sitting on the ground.

He was part-owner of a small family business, the local Edams

Garden Centre on the main A51 Chester road. His brother and his

wife Bridget ran the farm shop and the retail side of the Garden

Centre whilst he concentrated on the production of their plants.

Every time he passed the Edmunson cottage at the weekends he

would call in for tea or coffee and any spare cake, biscuits or lunch

as and when available.

As Jack’s best mate he was the person to go for a few beers

with at The Pheasant Inn, which was handy for Peter’s large cottage

adjacent to the Edam greenhouses where Dingle Dell met the River

Dee plain.

“Is Edmunson around gorgeous?” Peter was always happy in his

life no matter what was thrown at him and beamed her a wide smile.

“He will be shortly,” replied Melanie. “I sent him off to do my

errands.”

“Nothing new there then!” Peter grinned more widely. “Is the

kettle on or can I have one of those fancy coffees?” He calculated

the time that Jack would be away from home whilst slipping his hand

down her back to rest on her bottom which he squeezed enticingly.

“No Peter, we haven’t got that amount of time you terrible

man and anyway Joseph could walk in.” She quickly pecked

him on the lips leaving her hand on his strong chest to avoid an

inevitable response.

36

There must be more to life?

“We can always go into the downstairs loo if you want to and

lock the door. You know it’s only you who makes a noise Mel.”

“I said no! Playing around is okay but playing for keeps is a

different matter.”

The thought of a marriage break up cooled his ardour and so

he chatted to her whilst still openly lusting; looking her up and

down and remembering their last sex session.

“How is your marriage me darlin’? Are you still bored by the

old moaner when he gets home at weekends or can you muddle

through until he clears off again?”

“He is such a perfectionist Peter and even though the house is

immaculate, I always feel he needs to complain about some trivial

thing to assert that his money and his cleverness provides for me.

I can’t stand his sanctimonious shit sometimes. Believe me if it

wasn’t for Joseph I would leave him.”

“Jesus Mel. I didn’t realise you were that uptight about things.

I thought you were just sexually frustrated.”

“If only you knew what goes on behind closed doors, if only

you knew.” As Peter moved closer they heard the back door creak

open and he immediately stepped further away.

“Hey tosser! Are you chatting my wife up again?” Jack walked

in the rear entrance to see Peter close to his woman. He was jealous

even though he didn’t love her.

“How are you doing wanker?” Peter replied, grinning at his

mate, “how’s it hanging?” Melanie walked off disgusted with the

pair of them.

“Alright mate, big week, lots achieved. What about you?”

“You know Jack, same shit, different day.” Peter never had a

brilliant day at work; the success of his days was ruled by the weather.

“Sodding winter pansies have got sodding mildew now. We

only make about three pence a plant so we will have to rely on the

bedding season to make some money this year.” Peter was always

optimistic about the next growing season because years of practice

meant the weather, plant prices or numbers of customers would

cycle up and down and eventually over a few years things went on

much the same.

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“Mañana – Peter, no worries, that’s life, work hard and play

hard.” Jack supported Peter in everything and vice versa.

“Yes Jack, life’s a bitch and then you marry one!” They both

giggled like school boys but only because Melanie and Bridget

weren’t around.

Bridget also ruled the roost like Melanie but in an entirely

different way. Peter always did what he wanted, when he wanted

and was so self-assertive about his life that he rarely listened to

her. So she did the same. She crammed and organised their

simple lives into a big cottage with a gorgeous view of the Welsh

mountains across the Dee valley. It was full of four teenage girls,

the girls’ endless stream of friends plus their dogs and cats and a

procession of business or Edam family visitors. Their joint world

totally revolved around the family and the Garden Centre.

However, Bridget’s world centred on the girls and their

happiness, not her husband’s, and she spent many hours a week

ferrying them between music lessons, their friends’ houses and

the shops when without Peter around she was always happy. Her

contentment was in a simple family life and although everything

was bought on the cheap nothing was ever disposable. This

philosophy was reflected in the shared outlook to life with Peter

and had pushed them together as teenagers. A joy of anything to

do with nature, a privileged look at the sunrise or sunset whilst

barbecuing their tea. Leaning out of the bedroom window in the

morning watching the heron take their koi out their pond – until

it had taken too many and Peter shot it dead. The carcass swiftly

buried to avoid any middle-class neighbours reporting him to the

police. He didn’t care about the protection of the species but he

was worried about losing his unlicensed gun that gave him hours

of fun shooting rabbits near the greenhouses. Simple meant caring

for the hens running free in the garden so that the pretty blue eggs

would be available in the farm shop.

Just simple, non-expensive and down to Earth just like the dirt

on their old work clothes – not that they had more than three sets

of clothes each because they didn’t need anymore.

“Lo there! I saw your cars boys so you can’t escape that easily.”

38

There must be more to life?

Bridget Edam was tall, slim and blonde with rimless glasses

and always looked naturally beautiful.

A lot of the shop trade was from Cheshire husbands doing

errands for the Cheshire set wives and taking the opportunity to

chat her up unsuccessfully. She used her natural beauty to woo the

punters; a casual undoing of a top button on her cheap cheesecloth

blouse would keep the clients entranced. A sun-reddened chest

had large but pert breasts pushing into a cheap unglamorous white

bra. Like Peter she never used suntan lotion and because of her

white pale complexion, she suffered every summer from a rash

of freckles that made her brown under the redness. Peter was

the opposite, he was red turning brown from the first week of the

English summer and then stayed mahogany for the rest of it. Jack

constantly chided him about the dangers of skin cancer to which

Peter always replied. “We’re only on this Earth once and I’m not

going to worry.”

Jack disagreed. “Apart from when we go up and down on a

plane a few times of course.”

“Ah but you can’t get sunburned in the stratosphere, wanker.”

“Of course you can, tosser.”

“No you can’t wanker, you would be dead from the lack of

oxygen before burning mate.”

And that was why they were best mates, always egging each

other on and avoiding being serious.

Bridget dragged Peter away as she needed extra bacon for the

shop before the rush at lunchtime and the pair sped off to make

most of their income for that week.

The Garden Centre farm shop looked after the needs of the

Cheshire set and charged three pounds for a specialist Warburton

loaf of bread, that still sold like crazy even at this exorbitant price.

Bottles of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc at twenty-seven pounds

went within a few days of their arrival, mainly to Melanie who

thought it was ‘fab’, as it was short supplied to keep the brand

a ‘must have’ name since 1990. ‘Names, names, names’ made

Cheshire tick but strangely you would never find Cheshire cheese

at a dinner party and so it was never stocked in the farm shop.

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The Sun Sharer

Names counted around Tettenhill, for clothes, cars, schools and

food and the Edam family used the Garden Centre to manipulate

this myopic cachet to great effect thus maximising their profits.

Sticky toffee pudding brought in direct from Cartmel in the Lake

District as eaten by Madonna and at a mere twelve pounds thank

you. Any extra information to improve the sales and edge the

profit margin upwards.

After a day of soccer, homework, jogging and car washing the

football results took precedence as Joseph and his Dad argued

the merits of Jojo’s Man United versus his Dad’s Liverpool team.

The husband and wife went to bed about ten that night with Jack

still exhausted from the working week and the late dinner party

the night before. After half a bottle of Campo Viejo Rioja he was

falling asleep in front of Jonathan Ross on the TV and made the

early move. He dumped his clothes on the floor of the bedroom

and jumped into bed turning off his sidelight that Melanie had

deliberately put on earlier instead of hers. It was always his light

that was turned on and never hers as part of a strange mind game

that he couldn’t work out.

She came into the bedroom from the brightly lit en suite and

aggressively demanded, “Why do you always turn your light off?”

She turned hers on in a frump and jumped into bed, picking up an

old Hello magazine to read with a satisfied yawn. Jack had his back

to her, his eyes were firmly closed and his teeth were still gritted

following the aggression in her voice.

“Why do you always turn my light on? What’s the big deal

about a fucking light?” He thought this but daren’t say it and

challenge her when he just wanted a quiet life. After a week away

any normal husband would positively demand and do anything to

have a shag. In fact most men would want to make love to their

wives but his mind was so screwed up by her lack of respect that

he couldn’t contemplate sex never mind love.

“You need to pick those clothes up and put them away before

you go to sleep.” She nudged him in the back and so he wearily

40

There must be more to life?

got out of bed and transferred them to his wardrobe in the spare

bedroom, dumping them on the floor behind the oak doors.

After a few minutes he was drifting into sleep when she leaned

over him. She was heavy on his right shoulder with her small

floppy breast shoved into his back.

“Do you fancy a cuddle then?” She put her hand on his crotch

and started to finger him gently. No love all day, no conversation

about things that mattered like feelings and thoughts. Just pointless

issues raised by her pointless friends as she never thought for

herself. He half raised his weary head and glanced at her before

lowering it again.

“Why, do you always do that?” he asked. “Every time, you

wait until I’m half asleep, you read some crap magazine and then

expect me to respond. Every fucking time it’s the same.” His anger

seemed to come to a head much quicker nowadays. Melanie was

apologetic but her voice was hard.

“I only thought you would want a cuddle; don’t take it out on

me. If you don’t want one, then I can do without it. I was only

thinking of you!”

“You know how untrue that is Melanie. You know it all has to

be to your agenda. I’m knackered, you don’t care and you don’t

really want me, you just think it’s your duty to try and keep me

happy so you can drift on in your life.” Jack curled his embryonic

body tighter in his anger, seething with the perceived manipulation

of it all and knowing he didn’t love his wife but without consciously

admitting it. Frankly she probably knew and was going through the

motions as duly accused. Melanie turned the light off and turned

her back on him with a final riposte.

“I wish I had stayed downstairs now, Jonathan Ross was ‘fab’.”

Jack clenched his teeth tighter, slipped from beneath the duvet,

threw his Gant dressing gown on and stormed out of the bedroom

door, slamming it shut behind him. As he watched the end of

Jonathan Ross and then the late film until one in the morning he

felt the enormity of the situation.

A demanding job and a wife whom he had started to hate.

All of it was too much to comprehend and so the remaining

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The Sun Sharer

half a bottle of Rioja was drunk before he grudgingly slipped

back to the matrimonial bed, taking great care not to wake the

snoring lump.

So a typical Saturday in Tettenhill, Cheshire.

Miserable weather, a chat and coffee with your best friends.

A son busy enjoying his own company.

Objectives set by Jack never achieved in sharp contrast to his

working week.

The women of the area predominant and clever at using their

husbands’ money and assertive about their own lifestyles and

friends.

All to their agenda.

It was early on Sunday afternoon following the morning chores

on a cold and wet February day in 2004. Jack had intended going

into the garden that morning just to turn over some of the flower

beds and get some frost into the clods of earth to break it up into

a fine tilth for the spring. He did go out between showers but just

to be outside and away from Melanie and so he made his way out

again, leaving his son happily entertained in front of the TV and

his wife upstairs on the phone to a girlfriend.

He was always happy outside as a free spirit talking to nature.

After three or four half-hearted attempts at turning over the wet

soil, he dug in his spade thinking he would have to return indoors

and find some other diversionary work when a shooting pain shot

up the right side of his back.

“Oh fucking hell,” he gasped as he bent forward. “Not a…

fucking ...gain.” He had constant back problems now and the

consultant had told him he would need surgery on his discs worn

out from years of jogging.

“Fuck me; this is just fucking old age.” He slowly moved to

the front door crouched double and wincing at every tottering step.

Leaning against the door he pressed the bell. Joseph arrived first.

“What’s the matter Dad?” he yelled through a glass panel with

his mouth pressed close to it. Jack gasped in pain.

42

There must be more to life?

“It’s my back again. Get your Mum quick.” Melanie slowly

walked down the stairs whilst saying goodbye to her friend before

handing the phone to Joseph and unlocking the door so he could

crawl inside the lobby. She roughly pulled his boots off whilst his

legs were half stuck outside to make sure he didn’t dirty the carpet.

“Take your jacket off Jack, it’s muddy too for goodness sake.”

He replied tight lipped, “You could help me then rather than

standing with a disapproving look.” On all fours a frustrated Jack

pulled himself into the lounge watched by a concerned Joseph

and collapsed onto the floor demanding painkillers and his TENS

machine through clenched teeth.

“I told you not to garden today you silly man.” Sympathy didn’t

come easily to Melanie and in Jack’s case ever. “What do you think

you were doing? Now you’ve ruined my plans for you to take Joseph

swimming later. I can’t believe you did that!” She stood with arms

crossed as he lay sprawled on the new Axminster carpet.

Jack lay in agony face down, trying not to throw up due to the

pain and calming his breathing to stop the spasms running across

his lower back. He might have summoned the energy to tell her to

fuck off but Joseph was holding his hand and asking if he was okay.

“Don’t worry mate, it will ease off soon. Sorry I won’t be able

to swim hey?”

“That’s okay Dad, Mum can take me.”

Melanie left the room. She had no intention of swimming

having spent ninety pounds on her new ‘fab’ hairstyle and colouring

for the dinner party on Friday night. On her return she dropped

the TENS machine next to his right hand and a packet of Co-

codamol generously donated to him in bucket loads by Matt.

“Joseph, you need to do your piano practice now.” She

dragged her son away and left Jack to sort himself out. As the

strained tones of ‘Walking in the Air’ drifted through to him, Jack

felt very alone and unloved. His day was fucked completely now

and he could only hope to stabilise the pain so he was ready for

the commute to work at Rosset early the next morning.

“Another exciting weekend,” he thought “and then a five am

start. Fucking great eh!”

43

The Sun Sharer

Strained, out of tune music continued to waft through the air to

him. Peter had a theory and had told him the previous summer.

“Children are made to be what their Mums want them to be in

Melanie’s clique of friends, tosser. To be what they think they

should be, rather than what they are. The kids are not allowed to

develop and grow into their own persons. Whether they are put

through the pain of keyboard, saxophone or swimming etcetera,

it’s the Mum’s choice and not theirs. Let Joseph grow up to be

himself Jack.”

Lying still, Jack listened to the badly played music and could

only agree with Peter’s sentiments.

As he was semi-comatose it helped him to think about his life

and the others round him. If you looked in through the small panes

of the cottage window, he seemed to be talking to someone else in

the room who was sitting on the sofa.

“Nim, I can’t remember the first time I looked at my wife and

thought God I hate you or even I don’t want sex with you. Sex has

become a burden. Every night I lie in bed with my back to her and

when she makes an approach like ‘Do you fancy a cuddle?’ I know

I don’t really want her. Then it takes ten minutes of sucking my

cock just to get me enthusiastic. That’s only because I need sex,

I am just an animal, Nim. That’s why I know there is something

desperately wrong in my life.”

Keep talking to me Jack and start to accept the

answers by listening through the ether.

She is not the one you need to fulfil your life and enter

the fifth World.

Open your mind and listen as I am sending guides to

help you understand.

He drifted into a drugged sleep to be woken by Peter staring

down at him.

“What the hell are you doing down there?”

Jack lifted his head slightly. “I think God has got a bone to pick

with me. Maybe I went too far in my comments about Melanie on

44

There must be more to life?

Friday night and this is his punishment.” Jack was out of pain now

unless he moved of course. He slowly and gently turned over and

lay on his back trying to relax and avoid the back spasms which

had subsided by using the TENS machine. Peter picked up the

Co-codamol packet.

“I noticed you didn’t seem to be happy bunnies together.”

Jack rolled his eyes. “Two shit nights after you all went, tosser.

Same shit, different day and tomorrow back to work for a different

sort of shit for five days on the trot.” And then he smiled. “But next

weekend I am fifty on Saturday, so we are taking Joseph and staying

in Dartmouth. A nice hotel by the estuary, a highly recommended

gourmet restaurant and hopefully some nice weather.”

“That sounds great, wanker, apart from the cost and the fact

that having driven hundreds of miles for your work you are going

to knacker yourself further by driving twelve hours down to Devon

and back.”

Jack grunted before his reply. “The problem is Peter, fifty

is a big thing to me and things like a bad back make it more of a

milestone towards being considered as old. Everyone keeps telling

me that fifty is the new forty. What bollocks. But I can’t get my

head around it. I keep telling myself fifty down and fifty to go.”

“In your dreams mate, you’ll be lucky to make sixty, wanker.”

Peter was never supportive and he carried on giving Jack some

home truths. “You know what will happen next weekend, as soon

as you get to the M6 at Stoke, she’ll want the toilet and then again

every thirty or forty miles whilst you are driving. How come a

woman can hold piss in her bladder for five hours when shopping

but as soon as she gets on the motorway with her husband she

needs the loo every twenty minutes? Tell me that! But if she was

driving and the roles were reversed you would ask her to stop

and she would keep passing those service areas until you need to

find a bottle and try and fill it crouched in the foot well.” They

both smiled as it was so true.

Peter perched his dirty jeans on the arm of the pristine gold-

coloured armchair and continued. “I noticed Melanie had new

clothes on again at dinner, tosser.” He was all heart in Jack’s time

45

The Sun Sharer

of greatest need and just wanted to exacerbate Melanie’s faults for

his own perverse reasons.

“Yes. Again is the right word, wanker, she doesn’t understand

how hard it is to make money and how easy it is to spend it. I

wish I had married someone like your Bridget, who never seems

to spend anything.”

Peter declined to comment as it was all relative. Earn less and

spend less but it seems as much. Jack closed his eyes momentarily

but it was not because of the pain, instead it was to cover the pang

of guilt that crossed his mind about Bridget as he contemplated

how much he wanted his best friend’s wife. To break the perceived

pregnant pause Jack commented as if a third party analyst on

‘Match of the Day’.

“The latest DKNY gear bought in Chester of course. DKNY

is a short abbreviation describing her husband: Doesn’t Know

Nothing Yet. The wife in question was heard to comment before

the match, I have had these for ages. Ages, meaning more than two

weeks having lain hidden in the wardrobe. At the end of the game

she went on to say. I saved you one hundred and ten pounds and

only spent three hundred and thirty. A true saving then!”

“Well mate,” Peter responded. “There is no way I could be

married to Melanie; I will just have to stick with shagging her.

I only popped in to say I can’t come swimming this afternoon.

Actually, I’m too tired from shagging your wife this morning. She

told me she had got a sore fanny so I had to give her one up the

arse instead.” They both laughed but it could have been true.

Melanie was doing more homework with Joseph and poked her

head around the door. “How long is ten inches in centimetres?”

Peter helped out. “About as long as my willy, Mel. Do you

need a hand to measure it or maybe you might need two!” He

turned as he left the pretty lounge decked in reds and golds. “See

you in a couple of weeks then mate.” And he disappeared into the

kitchen to chat to Melanie about how ‘fab’ she looked in her new

clothes the other night. Jack heard the clatter of the diesel engine

as his old grey Peugeot 507 pulled away.

“Thanks mate. Hope you’re better.” Jack sighed having

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There must be more to life?

reminded himself how selfish Peter was. Melanie shouted at him

but didn’t bother coming into the room.

“Did I hear you Jack? Do you need anything?” But she just

left him prone on the best carpet from Brintons Limited. ‘Names,

names, names’.

Jack forced himself upstairs before seven that evening to say

goodnight to Joseph as his son made his way slowly to his homage

to ‘Man U’ bedroom, finding lots of distractions from squeezing

the whole tube of toothpaste into the washbasin to having a giant

poo as every night before bedtime.

Jack lay on the floor of the bathroom trying not to breathe in

too deeply whilst watching Joseph sitting on the throne. Through

the leaf patterned window they could see the sun setting in the west

over the Welsh mountains.

“You see that sun?”

“Yes Dad.”

“Well, if I am away from you and you from me just look at the

sun okay? When we both look at the sun we share our love for each

other no matter where we are. Being a Sun Sharer is so special;

just remember that, you may only find one or two people in your

life that are Sun Sharers.”

Jack loved his son so deeply he was always upset on Sunday

nights before the early Monday commute. He questioned the logic

of working hard and missing out on the important parts of life but

usually contented himself with the fact that eight hundred pounds a

day as an IT contractor kept Joseph and Melanie in a nice standard

of living, with nice friends, in a nice area. The alternative would

be to move house again and he had agreed six years earlier to stay

in one place for Joseph’s sake but also so that Melanie could be at

home with him rather than work. All for little Joseph.

“Dad, who made the sun?” Joseph was wiggling his legs back

and forth perched on the toilet and not doing much else.

“Well, that’s a very good question and I am not sure anyone

can ever answer it even your Dad. The scientists think that when

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The Sun Sharer

the universe began it was no bigger than a pin head and it suddenly

exploded and started to expand and grow so fast it is now billions

of miles wide and still growing.”

“That’s impossible Dad,” came the all knowing six-year-old

reply.

“Not impossible, just difficult to understand.” Jack smiled at

Joseph’s young naivety.

“But Dad, who made it explode then? Was it Al Qaeda like

with the twin towers?” Joseph was mature and clever at six going

on eight. He read avariciously and always questioned everything

he saw on the TV news.

“No one knows because no one can prove it Jojo. Some people

just find it easier to call the person who started it all ‘God.’ You

can’t see God so he exists or maybe he doesn’t hey? So you could

say it was the giant spaghetti eater that started it and no one can

ever prove you wrong son.”

A thoughtful Joseph started folding toilet paper into strange

shapes as he replied, “In that case I think Kai out of my ‘Yu Gi

Oh’ programme was there on the first day and he is the master of

the Universe.”

“Good, now get off that toilet and please don’t use so much

paper or you’ll block the drains up!”

After a kiss and a cuddle Jack went and lay on his own bed

for a last lonely hour of thought before he started to pack his

suitcase. Then he struggled downstairs with it, sliding it down the

steps to take the strain off his back and awkwardly slung it into

the boot of the car that was parked in the garage. He wandered

into the day room and saw Melanie was entranced by ‘Top Gear’

which is why no help had been offered as TV came first. It was

always this time that was the worse for him. Saying goodnight

to Melanie was harder than with Joseph. He felt so lost in their

relationship and she didn’t seem to give a damn. She disturbed

his equilibrium.

If her week was full and she had Joseph and her friends around

her, he felt that she had all she needed. He looked at her sadly,

resigned to his fate.

48

There must be more to life?

“Night then. I am going to bed.” He used to like Sundays

when he felt warm and happy with his family and he even enjoyed

the ‘Top Gear’ programme especially when it was more like a

car programme rather than light entertainment with an odd

car thrown in. Sometimes he would mute the TV and watch

the presenter’s actions and realised it had all become a bit anal.

Ploughing matches, burning or exploding caravans, making cars

into boats and generally crashing into things. He wasn’t a snob

and enjoyed light fun but it was in keeping with seeing more of

daily life becoming dumb and dumber. More crap presented in

different ways and with far less to seriously think about. It must

be my age he thought.

“Are you talking to me Melanie?” Jack was stressed.

“Yes of course but I just love this programme.” She deigned

to respond properly before adding. “Why can’t you get a job like

Jeremy Clarkson? He looks about your age and we could use all

those ‘fab’ cars.” Jack wasn’t sure if she said this in jest or just to

twist the knife. Maybe she was just being insensitive but it had

been another shit weekend.

“Do you know how hard I work? I am in work at seven in

the morning before you even get up and leave at seven at night

to go to a grotty hotel with no friends. That is all day, every

day and every week.” Melanie looked across from the screen

towards him.

“Stop complaining Jack, other people’s husbands do the

same, stop being such a martyr. You never stop to look what

you have got.”

Jack was incensed. “I have got nothing. I have had nothing

for the last four shitty years whilst you gallivant around with your

friends wasting my hard earned money. Who do you know who

does the same as me?”

“Well, there’s John from Preston who you used to work with

at BAE.”

“Wrong Melanie. He stopped doing that last year and has got

himself a job at a fifth of the wage but based locally so that he can

see his wife and kids before his marriage fails.”

49

The Sun Sharer

She glanced at him before turning back to ‘Top Gear’. “Oh, I

didn’t know that. What about your friend in Andersen Consulting

who lives in Wrexham?”

Jack thought of Ashley before replying. “He works from home

now but spends most of his time on a mountain bike in the Welsh

hills.”

Melanie felt justified. “There you go then, he’s in the same

industry so why not you as well?”

Sighing deeply a very stressed Jack gave the honest answer.

“His wife works. She owns a fashion mail order business and runs

it from home. That’s the difference, his wife works.” He spat the

words out at her.

“Well, it’s not my fault she’s intelligent and not as busy as me.

I have to do so much for Joseph you can’t believe how busy I am

all week.”

“Yes,” said Jack. “Busy going to the gym for three half days

a week. Busy shopping with your friends and doing lunch in the

Number Six coffee shop in ‘Tar poor lee’. Really fucking busy, not.”

He went to storm upstairs in a frump without saying goodnight

but the problem with his bad back meant that the body language

failed miserably. She just laughed quietly at his slow departure.

In bed with the light off he thought more about her.

“She will never change; it’s all getting out of hand Nim. Just

taking the piss more and pushing me to my limits as she knows I

won’t do anything about it.”

His tiredness replaced his anger and he was soon asleep and

didn’t wake until the early alarm at five. Creeping out without

putting the light on, he quickly shaved downstairs and threw water

on his face before grabbing his laptop and briefcase to jump in the

car. He had been forbidden to disturb her and so ten minutes after

the alarm he was gone and on his way to Rosset.

The small market town straddles the River Beane and sits near

the A1 in Hertfordshire. On the left bank are the old dock

buildings partly ripped down and rebuilt into new shopping

50

There must be more to life?

parks, or if alongside the river they had been converted into smart

apartments. On the right bank is the castle where King John died

and also the heart of the old town with its pretty speciality shops

including many full of antiques. This is the heart of the UK’s

antiques exchange as the town hosted six massive fairs every year

at the local World War Two aerodrome. The old town had a pretty

church, a wide expanse of cobbled market square and a series of

small roads known as gates based on the major compass points

similar to those of Chester and Newark on Trent. It must have

been fashionable at the time. Rosset of course is an anagram of

tosser, which is marginally less rude than an anagram of Newark.

At least the local people didn’t suggest that the best thing about

Rosset was the A1 leading out of it, unlike those in Newark.

As he drove to work, he thought about the anagrams of the town

names and how Peter and his mutual greeting of tosser and wanker

had started but eventually decided it wasn’t linked. He hated

Monday mornings and knew by the evening he would collapse in

the hotel exhausted and not even bothered about food.

His old silver SLK Mercedes purred along despite over a

hundred and fifty thousand miles on the clock. He often thought

of painting it with bright orange flowers and yellow smiley faces to

buck reality. As usual he was driving with the sun-visor up, blinded

by the early morning light as he had persuaded himself that if he

could maximise his sunlight he would avoid depression caused by

the SAD syndrome. In fact it was Melanie and his lifestyle that

were the real cause of him being down all the time.

Watching the fields covered in frost and the sun glinting

through the trees, he thought about his dream for ‘Real Life’

full of nice people without prejudices. Getting a ‘Real Life’

whatever that meant was his new ambition and the reality was

becoming pressing.

“Nim, have you ever thought how boring we are, how many

millions of Ford Focuses are on the road. That somehow if metallic

they are better because the paint makes all the difference to our

51

The Sun Sharer

personas? How sad is that?” Jack pulled himself up for talking

out loud to an imaginary person.

He was sat in a traffic queue thinking about how people are

so boring.

“Why accept such non-identity. Surely to God there’s

something better we can aspire to?”

You have to listen to life to aspire.

You have to aspire to life to listen.

You will then assume your true identity.

He hadn’t heard a word.

“Yes Nim, I understand the economics about mass production

of cars but for God’s sake there must be more to life, somehow

and somewhere? It can’t just be me thinking this, surely not?

There is some intelligent life left on Earth isn’t there? We sit here

in our queues and accept being nonentities. We accept sitting in

a fucking queue with the same car in front as the same fucking

car behind. As well as the ones opposite that are going nowhere

as well. We are all truly crazy. We have these turgid nondescript

cars and then we go and personalise them through a number

plate as if it makes difference and that’s a sure sign that we have

lost the plot.”

Jack was tired and in a foul mood. He stopped himself from

putting his dry bogies into his top pocket as he drove along, just

because he couldn’t get to his hankie in his pocket. He used to

wipe them on the floor mat until he had new car mats. Wet ones

had to be wiped off the back of your finger, dry ones could be

flicked off out of the window.

“There are fifteen cars in front of me and nine behind, eight

am between Shefford and Rosset on the A507. Thirty miles per

hour again. Modern life is pathetic Nim.”

He was desperately trying to avoid refuelling as he knew it

would waste another ten minutes as everyone went into the next

Shell garage to buy their milk, bread, paper, lunch, bag of logs and

cup of coffee and precisely everything except fuel.

52

There must be more to life?

“Maybe Nim they should have bright orange ‘Easy’ garages

as the place to buy petrol and nothing else. Buy more petrol get

a lower price. Buy less and get a higher price. It’s got to be good

if you are short of time and of course everyone is.” His thoughts

rambled on as he got more frustrated and built up the adrenaline

ready for work. “Fuck me Nim, I’m even talking to you and you

don’t exist, fucking hell.”

He sat at his desk at exactly eight thirty am as per each

Monday morning and he was ready to work. But of course he

did think back to the weekend, having boiled up his frustrations

whilst sat in the car. He was sexually frustrated, frustrated with

the heavy traffic when no one could do right and knowing the

whole thing would brew through the week until he went home

again on Friday evening.

“Well, Nim if you exist. I need to get this off my chest and see

what the reaction is or I can’t work properly.”

At last you recognise I exist Jack.

Believe and listen now.

The time is right and this is not your ‘Real Life’.

He quickly tapped the keys on his computer and dialled into

his hotmail account. He started to type an email to Melanie.

“I was very upset with your attitude last night and throughout

the whole weekend. I don’t think I deserve it when I am under

enormous pressure and working seventy hours a week away

from home.

I had seen my son to bed and then packed which was an

emotional time.

I had not achieved any of my jobs all weekend as you dominated

my time and set everything to your agenda.

You insist that I creep out on a Monday morning like a leper

in my own home.

All weekend, you were demanding things of me but did not

check any of my circumstances or respond to my needs.

53

The Sun Sharer

I had my bad back again which is extremely wearing as it stops

my life.

I am fed up of being the only one who tries and puts himself

out to make things happen.

You seemed to take affront that I couldn’t look after Joseph.

At the weekends you want me to take all the responsibilities as you

want time off. I see it in the opposite way. I have slaved away all

week and then have a lot to do at the weekends for the benefit of

you both and need your support so I can make it ‘work to live’, as

opposed to now when it is all, ‘live to work.’

It’s all you, or you and Joseph, or you and your parents, or your

endless chain of friends and you.

You also made it plain this weekend that you are not going

back to work...twice. Did I say full time? And you are on holiday

for three weeks in the next five and are so totally relaxed that you

don’t complete anything anymore.

You fill in your day with everything important to you only and

not even important within the greater scheme of our lives. You make

time to fill in time but never to achieve anything and never anything

to help me anymore. So you spend your time enjoying life, keeping

fit and playing with your ‘fab’ rich friends and taking advantage of

your privileged position. All the time you are taking the piss, you

are demanding more of me and not taking time to get things done.

Anyone can spend money Melanie but not everyone can make

it but I do.

So again you have totally lost respect for me, for what I achieve,

for what I provide.

Frankly, I don’t think you love me anymore, never mind

respect me.

So why should I bother? You are taking the piss more often

and feel comfortable enough to do so. Why is that?

More than a lack of respect? That’s what I am wondering

about. Whether you have someone else.

Is it lack of love, being fed up with the same person for twenty

years? Bored and wanting someone with different values who is

more exciting?

54

There must be more to life?

I don’t know but I am not going to do everything I do and be

as nice as I am and take a load of crap.

I have a life too and at the moment none of it is devoted to me

at all. Either you are a partner or tell me why not.

You constantly judge before asking and even when you are

totally ignorant about the subject.

You think that everything in life is ‘nice’!

Being dynamic and making things happen is as important as

being nice. It’s just different.

You know it truly is ‘dog eat dog’ out here but you never get

outside of La La land to find out.

You are closeted away in a lifestyle you have created and seem

happy at any cost to stay there.

And there was no real communication this weekend.

You live in Melanie World and have forgotten how ninety five

per cent of the population truly lives.

Many people are out there grafting to make enough money to

pay a mortgage for a crap house and rarely going out and sixty per

cent don’t even have holidays! That is a fact!

Things we did this weekend are periphery to life itself.

So the important things in life are neglected. These are free

and incontrovertible: nature, love and humanity. These are the

things you have forgotten exist or at least with me.

I respect you as a Mother, for what you do for the home and

my son.

I respect you as an individual and do not tie down what you

do or who with as it’s your life and you only live once. Unlike

Peter and Bridget, you have your own life and lifestyle without

restrictions.

You are very, very lucky; they are in a rut and grafting every

day so you should consider yourself lucky – because I don’t think

you do!”

Strangely, the email relieved the pressure and allowed him to

get on with being the IT consultancy guru.

End of hotmail. Send.

She rang him that night and said she understood.

55

The Sun Sharer

She said she didn’t realise the stress he was under and how he

felt about everything.

She said let’s start afresh on Friday when we travel to Dartmouth

and use the celebration of his fiftieth with her and Joseph to rethink

and restart the relationship.

She said all the right things and Jack got on with his business

earning his eight hundred pounds a day and putting it all in their

joint account.

The conversation lanced the boil and the work provided the

anaesthetic.

The big man, the hunter gatherer, did his job and felt powerful

and wanted in his world. His wife had succumbed to his power

and apologised so he was the main man again and felt good about

that. Good knowing he had the power and the control because

what he had made he knew he could take away.

“I am the creator Nim therefore I am the destroyer too. I have

to destroy to create, therefore I am.”

He was sure there was something Biblical and Armageddon-

like about it all but didn’t have the time to find out and wasn’t ready

to pursue the action anyway.

That left one other person to cause him pain during the week and

that was his Mother.

Dad had died a year before and she naturally seemed to get

closer to Jack immediately afterwards. Mother and her youngest

son were very much alike. They looked the same, they thought in

the same way and they loved each other, but they never seemed to

find time to meet up. In between Jack’s work and socialising they

had only managed about four weekends together in a year and

these had been biased towards the time of death and therefore the

time of their joint need. They both missed his Dad when he had

gone but Jack felt guilt rather than a loss. He was never close to

his parents and was always too busy to get close to them. Frankly

he didn’t know them well at all. Ever since his days as a latch key

kid they had continuously worked. His parents were always busy

56

There must be more to life?

themselves and when they had retired they found that their son

had adopted the same approach to life.

After the death, Jack remembered sitting outside the

crematorium high above Leicester. He had wandered away from

the pack of loving but rarely seen relatives and was thinking about

all the things he had never said to his Dad. He made a mental list

to ask his Mum some questions about her life but he never quite

remembered to ask.

1. What is your favourite food?

2. What is your favourite song?

3. Do you remember your dead Mum often?

4. What makes you cry?

5. What makes you angry?

6. Do you believe in true love?

7. What is the most important thing in your life?

8. Are you scared of death?

9. What’s the best advice you can give me?

10. Tell her you love her.

Number ten was the worst of course because he had never

said this to his Dad.

He had never said “I love you Dad” and that made him want

to cry because now he never could tell him.

It was Monday night and he was feeling guilty about his lack of

contact with Mother as he lay on his hotel bed and so he speed

dialled her on his mobile. She had moved out of her house two

months earlier and had gone to live with his brother, which was

strange because for years she had no time or good words for

him. Maybe she said the same things to him and ran Jack down

in direct contrast.

She had seemed desperately ill four months ago and looked

frail and old for the first time as he and his brother took turns to

look after her in her small bungalow. She told them continuously

57

The Sun Sharer

that she was dying. It was as if she wanted to die and had decided

to give up now her husband was gone. They both felt hopeless,

but as always children have to learn what to do and how to react as

their parents get more infirm. She had beaten cancer three times

and was a tough person but it seemed like she had given up and

her ‘bad’ sons hadn’t noticed. Eventually she became completely

deranged and didn’t recognise either of them. She would regale

them with fictitious stories about having sex on her bed with the

visiting doctor and the nurse asking her to be a bridesmaid at her

wedding. But no, she wouldn’t go there as they all belonged to a

religious sect and they had orgies all the time.

Watching her mental pain and anguish tormented Jack.

He felt guilty about his Dad and now his Mum was going to

die. However, after a couple of weeks of real food and proper

care she pulled round and started to talk more normally. She

had advanced dementia and the death of her beloved husband

had triggered an early degeneration. In retrospect she had gone

downhill since Dad had died and stopped talking to people or

eating properly. So she had moved into Jack’s brother’s house in

Leicester and seemed content to sit in a window seat and watch the

world go by. Watch the lorries trundle into the factory opposite and

never complain when his brother’s dog sat by her and constantly

farted the deadliest smell imaginable.

“Hi Mum, how are you today?”

“Is that Jack my lovely boy?”

“Yes Mum, how are you feeling?”

“Your brother is on the same tablets as me you know. They’re

the ones you know, they’re… small and plastic and you know

they’re for your stomach. It’s because he eats a lot of takeaways.”

The non-stop tirade had started and seemed worse at every call.

“His wife’s lazy, she’s always been lazy so she doesn’t bother to

cook you know. I haven’t been invited to eat there for three years.”

She said this whilst sat in his brother’s lounge.

“I haven’t seen that grandson for years... I think. No one

bothers with me you know.”

“That’s because you are so miserable,” thought Jack.

58

There must be more to life?

“He’s walking now and I haven’t seen him.” She was well

looked after and saw her grandson every week but it made no

impression now.

Jack tried to calm her down and told her about his last birthday

presents and in particular the cost. He said he hoped the coming

weekend was going to be more realistic. Many an old adage came

out in these conversations.

She said in an old tired voice. “Money was made round to go

round.” A year later and it would not be said as the Alzheimer’s

kicked in properly. “Since I’ve been taking those stomach tablets, I

can’t taste a thing but Missus F from the Friday club says I should

drink some ginger wine. So I have drunk a bottle of it this week and

my taste buds are definitely coming back. It’s very strong you know.”

Jack turned the TV volume up a bit more.

“Really?” he intoned.

“Guess who I’ve just heard from? I bet you can’t guess.” She

only knew four people in her world but she desperately wanted

him to guess.

“Ay it’s Tugdual, you know your old pen friend.” It was in

fact his brother’s.

“He’s been on holiday you know, in France.”

“He is French Mother,” as Jack watched the start of ‘Spooks’,

his favourite programme.

“Is there anything else lovey?” Jack was keen to watch the TV.

“He sent me a card, it’s a lovely card, it’s in an envelope, it’s

a lovely card.”

“Where was he on holiday Mother?” asked Jack.

“Oh I don’t know, hang on I’ll go and find out.”

There was a two minute pause so Jack turned the TV volume

back up to normal.

“Urm.... Airberget on de Musee, or something like that. Hello?

Hello? Can you hear me?”

“Yes Mother,” sighed Jack, “where?”

“Oh Jack, my knee hurts today but I can’t get a hip replacement

you know. He was with Jean Claude and Antoinette you know.”

Jack doubted this as Tugdual had left Antoinette and his four

59

The Sun Sharer

children after deciding he was gay and moved in with the beautiful

Jean Claude. Antoinette and he weren’t talking anymore after she

exacted her revenge by telling him he wasn’t the father of any of

her children.

“Only in France,” he thought.

“You know I’m a lot more settled, I don’t think I want to move

now.”

As if she could. Jack was scared by how quickly she was losing

her faculties.

“I’m not having a hip replacement; I couldn’t stand it. I

don’t know why but I’ve just been to sleep,” she was laughing and

couldn’t stop. “I keep falling asleep,” she chuckled on.

“Lucky you,” said Jack with great sincerity, feeling absolutely

knackered.

“I’ve been lying down but I need to see the doctor about my

hip. It’s Joseph’s birthday next week isn’t it? He’s thirty isn’t he?”

“No, Mum you are getting confused with my eldest son

Rodney and he’s twenty-three Mother.” Jack sighed more deeply

than ever. Mother was changing tack again.

“I haven’t heard from him for ages since his last birthday

when I sent him some money. I never hear from him unless I give

him money. Your brother’s not here if that’s why you rang? He’s

changing his job you know. Did you know I might need a new hip?”

Jack had to end the conversation as he felt uncomfortable and

then immediately guilty.

“Yes, yes you told me last week and I just spoke to my brother.

You were given the telephone by him so don’t worry Mother. Bye

lovey… love you lots …bye!”

He lay thinking instead of concentrating on the ‘Spooks’

programme. Mother had given him her neighbours’ telephone

numbers two years ago in case she had a problem and he couldn’t

raise her. Once he tried to get through and he found out that she

used to leave the telephone off the hook deliberately because she

couldn’t be bothered to answer it. So Jack rang the two numbers.

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