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By d.s.Eliot

Copyright 2017 Glenn John Elliott

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

The ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. The ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favourite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This novel uses UK English.


On a street corner twenty nine years ago, an army friend to the rescue. Turns out that he, Glenn, is the love of my life. Through thick and thin, he is now my husband. I am so proud of him. Glenn, thank you my love.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68


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Chapter 1

A while ago, as all stories start, in this case with the sun coming up. In a dusty outback town in Australia called Kalgoorlie. A mining town with the largest gold open pit mine in the country. Saturday, it so happens that the dads, both miners, Paul and John got drunk and passed out. The main reason is the future was about to pick up even in this backward outpost. Their sons, Miceal and James, both seventeen-year Old’s and happy as kittens, cuddled out in the unseasonal cold weather in the shed out back. It never gets cold here.

Miceal the bigger and rugged built sportsman’s arm hangs loosely other the slighter frame of James. James very good looking, a little shy, but highly articulate, likes the protectiveness of Miceal, it makes him feel safe. The weather was turning, even colder in the early morning hours. James shrugs. Vaguely awake by a rather loud snore from Miceal. Then, awake at the hardness pressing into his lower back, “OMG!” He thought, “It’s cold so I don’t want to roll away,” in that single moment James realized that he was in love with his best friend and not in the way that the world thinks appropriate. So, he rolled away on to his stomach.

As the sun rose it warmed the cold air and Miceal slowly woke up, still with his arm draped over James. Eventually saying to James, “That was cold last night, best we go and wake up the old guys and sort out breakfast. After all we are going hunting today.” James did not enjoy the prospect at all. His dad, John would get drunk and be egged on by Paul, shooting at anything that moves. Increasingly James could not think of anything else “MICEAL”. Was he ‘bad and broken’ or was it the moment that he realized that he was in love with Miceal, for real?

The waking was met with more morning whiskey shots. With bacon and eggs, much chest slapping and how many kangaroos would get some lead in the day. The boys would follow obediently, pouring beer and not getting near enough for the odd slap for whatever meaningless offence that was perceived. Paul and John where not gentle in any way or form. The day passed quietly though with several kangaroos losing their lives.

As soon as they could avoid any of the obligatory responsibility to serve, Miceal and James headed to the nearby pool, nestled in a spot that’s inconceivable in this dusty patch of land. An aquifer that surfaces into a pool that holds all of that normally warm water. Today it was a little cold but none the less wonderfully refreshing. Skinny dipping time. James could not drag his eyes from Miceal. “What are you staring at?” Barks Miceal.

“That hickey on your face,” blurts James and passes him into the cold water, mainly to hide his growing erection. Much frolicking and splashing with both eventually exhausted sees them heading back.

Immediately they stroll in, Paul, drunk as a lord lays into Miceal. “Where have you been, whoring around?” Miceal gets a proper beating.

James simply runs away, scared to be caught in the beating. His dad is passed out, “Thank God!”

Monday, James wakes up in the shed out back. No Miceal. Panic. “Where is he? We always sleep out here”. No Miceal. Anywhere. For his effort’s he runs to the sleepover and asks Paul and John if they have seen Miceal? Promptly receiving a beating for waking them up. Paul and John where not gentle in any way or form.

James distraught after discovering his feelings for Miceal flees to the local. Battered, but nothing a few beers would not cure. It is 9am in the morning, nothing an Aussie lad can’t handle. The beer mellows his mood. But nothing changes his longing for Miceal. It feels like he is going crazy. Nothing but the bar, and the mines. Work. Drink. Work. Drink. The next three years are a blur. The longing not going away, neither do the beatings.

Then fate steps in. While driving a truck to the mine mill. A tyre burst causing his truck to overturn. The result, a broken wrist that requires very delicate surgery. With very little available in Kalgoorlie, the local doctor advises that James should go to Sydney for a specialist to look and operate on his wrist. Not being able to perform the most basic of functions, James asks an old school friend, Kyle to help out and travel with him to Sydney. They are ‘sisters’ and Kyle can’t wait to get out of the hole.

Chapter 2

James and Kyle head off to the airport, get drunk on the plane and wake up in Sydney. This amid a LGBT riot, because of police brutally. They cannot spend time watching the riot as James needs to get to the hospital. During the operation Kyle contacts Miceal without telling James. Kyle has always thought him hot, and what goes on tour stays on tour. The post-op recovery proceeds well.

James and Kyle arrange to meet at a pub for a drink on his discharge. Kyle has been staying over at the local YMCA. When James walks into the pub he is horrified to see that Kyle and Miceal are kissing, quietly in a back corner of the pub. Caught in a trap of love and hate between Miceal and his dad. After a few drinks they head to their Uber to catch their flight to Kalgoorlie. Despite his hand being in a synthetic cast, when he gets to the sleepover, his dad hands out a beating for him being so careless. How could he damage the company vehicle?

Enough is enough. Hormones wild James sets off on a journey of his own. Self-discovery. Unusual. Normally nice to himself. “No, I must find Miceal. OMG.” He phones Kyle and asks the question “What is Miceal’s mobile number.” Kyle says he doesn’t have it. James none the less goes to Sydney, not a small place with just over 4 million people. James needs money so he reads the smalls for work. Despite all the searching he can’t find Miceal, but one of the ads strikes him. An environmental job in Reykjavik, Iceland. He gets the job after a brief Skype interview. Still no Miceal. Heartbroken he decides to go to take the job. Iceland. After all that is where he found the love of his life, in the cold of an Aussie winter in the outback. Unseasonably cold. The cold of Iceland may stay his love for Miceal. Where to find himself other than in a cold foreign place. Before leaving one final call to Kyle. “Do you have a number for Miceal – Please?”

“No, but his Dad has just died, he will be buried tomorrow, presumably he will be there.”

James’s flight to Iceland only leaves in three days. He decides to go back to Kalgoorlie for the funeral. His heart flutters at the thought of seeing Miceal again. Off to the airport. The flight is fairly uneventful. James makes it to the funeral on time.

Chapter 3

Miceal is not there. James is heartbroken and flees back to his connecting flight to Zurich and then on to Iceland. The flight again to Zurich is uncomfortable but uneventful. The delay however not so much. James heads off to the toilet with a four-hour layover to Reykjavik. Minding his own business at the urinal, a very hot Swiss boy joins him. James glances, but being a rather conservative outback Aussie boy, just focuses on having a pee. Not so the Swiss lad, who’s name turns out to be Sven. He has different ideas and makes the move. James stares – WOW! He stares and cannot help the corresponding response of his crotch. They grope and head off to one of the cubicles. The net result is that James gets a whole load off his mind. Sven and James exchange mobile numbers. While the English Sven commands is limited, they agree to hook up on James’s return to Australia in 3 months’ time.

The flight to Reykjavik is very bumpy and James feels nervous until the touch down. Clearing customs is easy but the walk into the cold air is staggering. At minus ten degrees Celsius, an Aussie lad used to forty degrees plus, was not the welcome James was hoping for. His ride to the environmental camp, Veraldarvinir, is pristinely beautiful. The snow and the black volcanic rock meld into something from a fairy-tale. James is enthralled. James is going to help renovate a farmhouse outside of the capital. Also helping to grow vegetables. Herbs in a hothouse, and collecting seaweed. James settles in just fine, he finds the people rude and distant. An Aussie guy is always friendly to a fault, “Good Day Mate, Can I buy you a beer?” Not here. Quite rude, sexist and insular. James, being James just keeps at his brand of being friendly. To be fair he also thought privately that both male and female, have not been struck with the pretty stick. The work is easy for this Aussie boy. His wrist hurts a little at the end of the day, but then as one would, suck it up.

Two weeks later, on his second day off, James decides to head to The Blue Lagoon. Despite the cold, the foreign tourists add a pleasant distraction. After two hours in the volcanic heated blue water, he is withered from the water. Out and back to Veraldarvinir. On his return to Veraldarvinir, his boss Thomas corners him. “Where have you been?”

“The Blue Lagoon,” says James.

“You did not get my permission.”

“I don’t need it, it’s my day off.”

“Don’t get cheeky with me, you little faggot.”

“Fuck You!”

“You’re fired you little faggot, get out and now!”

“Fuck you! Shove your job up your ass!” Seldom does James lose his temper in fact, as a rule he always runs away, but not today. Something has been building up in him and he aches for Miceal. Miceal must be traceable and if Miceal doesn’t want him, he will have to deal with that. So quickly he packs his stuff, glad to be rid of this insane cold.

On the flight to Zurich James goes to his somewhat genetic roots and gets completely pissed. He wakes up to the announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen. Please ensure that your safety belt is engaged, we are about to land at Kloten International.” James vaguely complies wishing that he had been a little more discreet with the alcohol. James fumbles through to the airport lounge waiting to connect to Sydney. This part he hates and with a big hangover, drinking is not an option in the international connection lounge.

Finally, the layover of four hours is over. He embarks. Qantus Airlines with accents that warm his heart. They set out for Sydney. “Would he find him he wonders? If he did, would Miceal even respond?” Heavy and light James could not decide where his heart was to end. He did miss a beat and did not hook up with Sven. So many questions at this youthful stupid age.

Chapter 4

Sweltering hot from where James embarked, he feels slightly feint. He thinks to himself “Good God, what has happened to me? What has happened to me in a few weeks?” Without much money he heads off to the local YMCA. The questions fired at him, by the head mistress, distress him slightly.

“Christian? God above all. Jesus the Saviour. Do you drink? And smoke? When last where you in church?” Finally passing the scrutiny he heads off for some jet lagged sleep.

Again, the go to guy, James gets a new SIM card and phones Kyle. James asks Kyle, “Are you still in Kalgoorlie?”

“No! Sydney.”

James, “Me too, let’s have a beer when you are free.”

Kyle, “Tonight, say 7pm at Joe’s?”

James, “Cool, see you there.”

James as always is fifteen minutes early, not to make his dinner date feel unimportant. Kyle as always arrives ten minutes late, giving James time to drink a beer. Then they have a few more as Aussie lads tend to do. Kyle does not handle his liquor well and after six beers blurts out to James that he is gay. James asks, “How do you know?”

“When I slept with Miceal, when you had your hand surgery.” Despite the thunderbolt that hits James in the stomach he keeps it together and ends the evening as quickly as possible. Stumbling back to the YMCA three kilometres away he just cries, cries and cries. The love of his life has been lost to another.

Chapter 5

James phones the sleepover landline. “Hi, mate its James Can I speak to my dad?”

The answer is “Sure.”

A brief moment and a very raspy voice “Yes”

James, “Dad, it’s me. I’m back in Sydney.”

“Yeah Mate, I’m on my last legs. Funny that. It’s liver cancer. A week or two they reckon.”

“Dad, is there anything I can do?”

“Yes, come bury me!”

James heads for Kalgoorlie to deal with his dad’s death. Not always the easiest thing to deal with. James being the sensitive type, dreads this and fears the impending trip. On his arrival, his dad has already passed. With relief as to not have to nurse his dad, he prepares for the funeral. Friday 11am. Being meticulous, all the details are sorted out, or as best they can be in the outback of Kalgoorlie.

Friday 10:55. A brief Presbyterian services is held at the grave site, and despite his loathing of his dad, James sheds many tears. The priest offers him the earth to throw onto his dad’s grave. He turns and there he is, Miceal. Not an OMG moment, more like an apple hitting you on the head, or MC². James runs up to Miceal and bursts into tears. “Where have you been?” More tears that drown out any answer.

Miceal says, “C’mon Mate, let’s go and have a beer.”

They leave arm in arm to the aptly named ‘The Big Hole.’

Only big hairy miners that represent the same breed as their own dad’s, reside. But due to Aussie manners, commiserate with the passing of his dad. “Can we get you a beer mate?”

Miceal answers, “Sure!”

James makes his way to a table while Miceal gets the beers and the following scene plays out in his mind. It’s time to confess. “Miceal, I have to tell you something! Remember that night out in the barn. Well you snored and I woke up. I felt your pressing hardness and I wanted it. I realized I was in love with you, then you left before I could tell you. So, I want to tell you now, I love you. “

James snaps out of his daydream, “James! Here’s to your dad.” As Miceal takes a seat beside him, beers in hand.

Hours later James wakes up and his first thought is, “I have to stop doing this! Where am I?” He stumbles to the toilet for a pee. Miceal, after plying James with many a beer had suggested they go to the YMCA. James agreed in a fog that hoped for more. On arrival, Miceal dumps James on his bed, looking longingly at the boy who he has been in love with his whole life. Miceal decides to head back to Sydney on the late-night flight. Sydney was like a warm blanket of safety for Miceal. The verbal and physical abuse he had suffered from his dad in Kalgoorlie had left a scar on his psyche forever.

Although to be fair he misses the times he got to spend with James. His apartment, non-descript and sparse was still his castle, but with no-one to share it. Should he have told James, but he could not risk losing his friendship. Better to stay away. Ever since he could remember he was gay. Miceal, with his rugged sportsman’s build and zero gay mannerisms had fallen in love with James at 14, when they started high school. James had always been there at the meets and the games, even when they were at opposite ends of the debate team. When they joined up to travel to other schools, they were a formidable team. Often taking the day and Miceal loved this. It fed into his competitive side. Yet cloaked in Sydney safety, he felt soothed. His job as a sports coach for Sevens Under 21 Ladies Rugby and Cricket kept him well, happy and content.

Chapter 6

As life would have it, time to travel. 7’s Rugby in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s quite the affair to get his Under 21 Ladies team onto the plane. Let alone into the airport and on to the plane. Once off the ground Miceal asks the air hostess for drinks to help for a bit of team spirit, in advance of their arrival in Cape Town. Miceal had never left the shores of Australia. A bit apprehensive, as the video footage of the South African opposition they watched before they left was quite ominous. The South Africans were very big and fast, then add New Zealand and it was a perfect storm. He decides to keep his chin up and keep going. He had not got this far by giving up.

The flight while long was a bit boring. It helps him with some of his planning. To make sure that his schedule from jet lag to all the training session, would see his side do well. Flying into Cape Town, coming into Cape Town International Airport from the west, gives a great view of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, and on a clear day even Robben Island can be seen. Today was such a day. Miceal felt a little hope growing, “Maybe, just maybe…” Their first team to play was Samoa, traditionally a very strong side. “So why not throw the first game? And get the easy road into the semi’s. Far less competition and legwork for his side. Then bring it on, two matches between his team’s victory. So Miceal pulls his captain aside, Caren Worthington. “Feign injury, when we get into the Samoa game. Yes we will lose but our path is a lot easier”

Caren, “Yes! You are a great coach, but are you sure? I was thinking that we would crash out in our second match against New Zealand.”

Pool C.

Samoa 21 - Australia 15.

Kenya 10 – Australia 15.

Tonga 15 – Australia 21.

Argentina 14 – Australia 21.

The key to head the top of the group table and with points difference sends them through to the next round. Next up England.

England 10 – Australia 21.

They pass.

New Zealand is another matter altogether. Miceal’s pre-match team talk is passionate and somehow, he inflames the team into a space that has them focused and determined to win. The net result a short while later:

New Zealand 15 – Australia 32

Exhausted from the effort they slump into the change rooms. “Hit the showers,” he commands. “We are a respectable team. I have got clean gear for you in this bag. Rehydrate and get some of these bananas in, it will help with cramp. I will find out when the semi-final is and who we will play. Please God not South Africa,” he expels. He leaves to the officials upstairs, this with a smile on his face. The goal he set himself has been achieved. A thought pops into his head, “What about winning this thing. How the hell do I get these girls to win? The South African’s are by far better and stronger than us” It is South Africa in the end, 1 hour to play time. Miceal waits till five minutes to match time, silence in the change room as he enters. “I don’t know how to inspire you but I will share something with you that may help.’ Tears start flowing down his face to the alarm of his team. Miceal, “I am gay as you may or may not know but it will be my proudest moment if you go out and win this just for me?”

South Africa 7 – Australia 14

The celebrations are epic. Back home in Sydney James turns on the television by chance, the channel is set to sport. He sees Miceal celebrating with the girls as they receive their medals and trophy.

Chapter 7

Slightly the worse for wear, it’s a rest day before flying to Paris for the next scheduled series. Concerned Miceal does not know how he will repeat the weekends ‘success.’ Only a few days to prep. Pulling a fast one won’t work again. Managing the girls is a twenty four seven job alone. A knock on the door. “Please not yet!” Miceal answers the door. “Hey Caren, great night, aren’t we leaving a little later.”

“Yes, but I got a text from a friend asking you to give a friend of hers a message.”


“His names is James, he saw you on the TV and recognized you. His number is +0489 706 1148. “Coming to Breakfast?”

Miceal, “No.”

Trembling Miceal finds his mobile. Barely able to enter the numbers, and praying he turned on his roaming, he hits the dial button. The call drops immediately. “Fuck!” He tries again and the call drops. It occurs to him that he may be in the wrong location, so to the roof. Dials. The warm soothing voice of James answers his call. He’s asleep due to the time difference. “I got your message, James. How are you?”

“Asleep and waking up, do you know what time it is?”

“For you yes, normal for me, now that I have gotten over the lag, I’m fine. Tell you what. Phone me in a couple of hours, we fly out at 19h00 GMT.” His heart racing, he terminates the call. He has at last again spoken to the love of his life. The thought of them in the barn safe and secure, his soft tender body under his arm, made him long for the day to reunite with James. Now it was pack and go. The girls were in high spirits and quite a handful to manage. All things being equal they make it to the airport and jet out on a twelve-hour flight to Charles De Galle Airport in Paris. The flight is marred only by two of the team mates bickering, but Miceal spots, steps in, and sorts out.

Paris, the city of love and lights, turns out to be quite a test for Miceal. The worst day too boot, two of his girls are arrested for smoking pot. Miceal pleads with La Police! They are finally given a verbal warning and off to be deported in the morning without record. He heads out to a gay club, Le Bear’s Den near Rue de Renard. A few beers later and a really hot French guy slides into the seat beside him. What happens, happens.

He wakes, the sun is up meaning he must be late for the departure to their first game. “Shit!” Despite his night of lust with Francois he dresses frantically, into a cab, he barely makes it to the hotel in time to catch the bus with the team to the game. Loss after loss sees the Sydney team return home with their tail between their legs. On the way to the airport the girls barely notice his distress after having spoken to James and in some way his satisfaction post the Francois event.

Caren and Miceal are seated next to each other on the Qantus flight. They quietly enjoy several drinks. Well, one too many. More too many. Caren finally blurts to Miceal, “Are you really gay? That little speech of yours was unbelievable, we won because of you, in South Africa”

The moment flicks Miceal back to that night, he turns to her and says “Yes, I am!”

Chapter 8

Despite the less than successful Paris trip as the Qantus Airplane sets down, little do Miceal and his Under twenty-one-year olds have an idea what is to follow. They disembark a little disorderly and head to the arrival lounge.

Cheers and applause. “Wow!” A large crowd and they are beset with signing rugby balls and T-Shirts. Finally, they exit the airport to be met with a celebratory coach for a trip to the Sydney Opera House. As they weave and wave at the thinning crowd there Miceal sees James, it has to be. His emotions explode, and he bursts into tears, running to the back of the bus. Yes! It is James. His arm reaches out in an attempt to touch and hold him as closely as possible. The trip ends at the Opera House. Drenched in Champagne, the ride to his apartment is very uncomfortable with only James on his mind. “How do I find him?”

James since relocating from Kalgoorlie to Sydney had been robbed by pure stupidity, leaving his cell phone on the seat next to him on the train ride to work. His job as a waiter at Mr Wong’s barely kept the rent paid. The glance at Miceal was worth a fortune, like winning the lottery.

Miceal now rid of the troop of rugby girls finds a bench, pulls out his cell phone and dials James’s number, that he had called on the roof of the Fire and Ice Hotel in Cape Town. Nothing. Again nothing. “Is this possible, I have to tell him I love him.” Back to his empty meaningless apartment. Some things done, some things not.

A week’s rest sees Miceal heading off to Bondi Beach, sunbathing and perving at all the hot boys. Always a party boy he ends up one night in the arms of Bernice. One thing leads to another. The next morning, “Good grief. What have I done?” He drags on his smoke drenched jeans and T-shirt and heads for the door. “What have I done! James will never forgive me. I have to have him. I saw him on the bus. Maybe! Just maybe!”

He gets back to his spot. A shower later he sits mindlessly in front of his TV and ponders his thoughts. His desire for that one person, or has he changed. “Will I ever know him? What happens when I tell him that ‘I love him’. Maybe I should just stay the fuck away.” He grabs his cell phone. “Kyle, how the hell are you?”

Kyle, “Well!”

“How about a drink tonight so we can catch up?”

“Sure Miceal, say 7 ó clock at Mr Wong’s.”

“Cool see you there.” Miceal actually shaves, his best jeans and t-shirt and with no expense on the deodorant arrives at exactly 7pm. As does Kyle unusually. They kiss and hug at the restaurant door. They enter. The tending waiter turns around. Another OMG moment.

Miceal, Kyle and James, a collective thought. “What the fuck!”

“What are you two doing here?” James asks.

“We are here for a piss-up. You’ll have to do as our waiter” Miceal quips, “Two cold Gold’s please at the table in the corner.”

James’s heart drops to the souls of his feet and beyond. He really has no chance. Kyle has won in every single way.

Miceal in his offish way when defensive heads off to the corner table. Kyle in-tow. His thoughts in turmoil. “Oh my God.” James very promptly arrives with the beers “How the fuck are you guys doing?” Not even hiding his emotions for Miceal. Miceal and Kyle drink too much and James trots up and down the whole freaking night. The odd comment and glance makes up for the ache to embrace Miceal. They loudly and drunkenly leave Mr Wong’s. James’s emotions are distraught. “Why! Why! Why!” After the evening’s servings the manager corners him for a drinking session. James complies. Always to be good on the right side of the law.

The morning finds James hung-over, day off and longing.

Chapter 9

Miceal’s R&R is done, back to work. Much to be done with his girls. Reports up. Time to manage the emotions of the team. A very, very busy time. Little that gives him time to get back to Mr Wong’s. Miceal finds himself exhausted. With a New Year on the next day, he heads out on a very quiet night with his team. Many thanks all round but the game of 7’s rugby requires that they entertain, and that is when the crowds are watching. Holiday’s and seasonable weather, or in some sports unseasonable. “Hey Guys!” to the girls. “Let’s go to Mr Wong’s. “ At the restaurant, no James. “Where is James?”

“He has left.”

Miceal asks “Where to?”

The waiter, “I don’t know, something came up.”

The evening and New Year passes with much jubilation. He heads to the ANZ Stadium formerly known as Telstra Stadium. They go down against New Zealand a loss of 14 – 7. They have their work cut out with Samoa and they draw 10 all. England however regroup and kick ass with a 21 – 0 win. All things even, not a great day at the office. They are a team though, and happy, and celebrate the night away.

Miceal decides on an adventure to France, having been taken by the visit to Paris. Although a long trip the pressure of the Sevens Rugby series ebbs while his Qantus plane speeds to Charles De Galle Airport. Miceal again senses safety. His six-foot two muscular beefy stature, a quiet sense of achievement and not much to lose on a quiet trip abroad.

Chapter 10

His first visit never quiet allowed for site seeing. Much to his delight he would get the time to breeze through the French capital. First on his agenda, the world-famous icons, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eifel Tower. It is like a chocolate factory for a child, he devours it all, every single moment. Then he remembers that someone told him to go to the Louvre. A taxi trip and his first impressions are a little outstanding. The pyramid is beautiful. Then he pays the euros and heads into the space nearly defined by gods. The bottom of the pyramid is the opposite to its sunlight sister. Another moment perfectly defined. Wondering around, a vendor gets him to buy a Louvre map and sends him to the Mona Lisa. A tiny all-looking girl. Yet the next stop, the Venus de Milo takes the breath out of his lungs. Unbelievably beautiful! How on earth did they get this done and more so in 100BC. Where to next? Another map, from a smiling vendor. He sees Toulouse, the famous rugby city. Appropriate. Decision made, it is only about seven hundred kilometres from Paris. “Pick a spot and head for it”, he thinks.

The rental is interesting, a little spongy on the shock absorbers but slowly he winds his way to Toulouse. The terrain is beautiful. Like an unbridled stallion, he simply feels happy, very happy. Then it dawns on him that this would be so much better if ‘you know who’ was with him. An anger wells in him, “Why has he fucked up so much?” The kilometres fly by. Finally there. Straight to the pub, a local rather non-descript spot. Too much to drink and he ends up sleeping on the back seat of the rental. He wakes up late in the morning, past 11h00, wondering what he is doing here. His French sucks and the people here have been slightly offish. Lunch – as an Aussie would.

“Bonjour!” to the lass who meets him and guides him to a table at the centre of the room. “Je voudrais un biere.” This after he has listened to countless recordings. To boot he adds, “No je ne parle Francais, parle vous Angleis?”

To this end the waitress says, “Yes I am English. Mother and Father thing!”

Miceal, “Is there anything on the menu that’s good?”

“Yes, the Steak Tartare is the best in the country.”

“Voila!” says Miceal, “Well then the Tartare and a beer, please!”

The beer and meal arrives promptly with a faint smile on her face. To his utter horror, the meat is not cooked at all, it’s raw, and while being an Aussie lad, that is a little off bounds. He eats the chips, pays the bill and heads off to McDonalds. Much of a haven. Miceal, “What have I done, thousands of dollars and I am nearly starved. Fuck that, I must go home.“ But as a reasonable Aussie lad, it’s time for a cold one. He sucks it down with the timely Double Mac.

It starts out all innocent but Miceal feels a little unhappy with his adventure. A few more and enter Pierre. A boxer, he is in the mood for a fight and the faggot at the end of the bar will do. A little drunk Miceal obliges, the first punch rearranges his nose. The adrenalin kicks in and he is no girl. The next punch knocks out his not so friendly mate. Lands him in the slammer for a week and then has to head back to Sydney by deport.

Chapter 11

Landing in Sydney hardly feels like home. His face still smarting from the efforts of a week ago. “Shit what now?” He applies for a job as the Men’s under 21 7’s rugby coach. He gets the job with a very nice salary increase. With a little extra cash, he steps up. A haircut. Nice jeans and a second-hand motorbike in good condition. He puts his shoulder to the wheel and starts to devise the plans for his new job. He is built like an Olympic athlete with a natural talent to teach, nurture, guide and lead those in his care?

Friday night service starts at 6pm. Prep time as the customers at Mr Wong’s start arriving in half an hour. James as always is extremely diligent and makes up for his rather lazier colleagues. They have a few bookings for 8pm but he does not spot the Kyle and Miceal booking. 8:30pm and the corner table booking has not arrived. Irritated that this table has been reserved but not filled. No tip that helps to pay the bills.

Half pissed Kyle and Miceal waltz into Mr Wong’s. Aghast James appraises both of them, “WHAT!” They all hug and then the Maître D’ sends James for the sommelier for the drinks order. Miceal as always heads to his favourite, the corner table.

Kyle and Miceal don’t hold back. In the end when they stumble out James picks up half their tab. Again, not a great day at the office. All things told, he can’t drag his eyes off Miceal as they head off. James reluctantly turns back, clean up duty. Kyle with a little more than Miceal on his mind heads out to his newly acquired second hand Volkswagen Beetle. They head out and Kyle suggests a quick drink at Patrick’s, a local pub on the way. As always, it’s he who falls, who falls first. They drink away, more and more. Finally, they stumble out of Patrick’s. Time to go home. Kyle takes a step to his old wagon followed by Miceal. Not much more than a mile away. They stumble into the car and pull out into the road. Even in their very inebriated state they never see the oncoming truck.

Kyle is killed instantaneously. Miceal survives a broken arm. In a coma but miraculously alive. A call from the truck driver to the police sees them calling in a first aid responder. Miceal is stabilised and taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital and placed on critical life support.

James’s day is coming to an end as he wipes down the last table. He glances up at the television set that he still needs to turn off and torrents of confusion and panic descend into his brain and stomach. The images show a police officer making a statement with overlay of Kyle’s Volkswagen Beetle totally destroyed. He rushes to the television and turns up the volume. OMG. “One of the people in the car has been confirmed dead.”

He runs to the restaurants change rooms, grabs his backpack and heads for the front door. Running into his manager who says, “Where the fuck are you going?” He just keeps going.

At this time of night not many cabs around. Finally, after sprinting to the main drag, minutes later he hails a cab. “Where to?” asks the cab driver.

James can’t think blurts out, “To the cops, the nearest one, North Sydney Police Station.

His emotions in complete and utter turmoil. “Please, dear god, let nothing have happened to Miceal!” But then Kyle is one of his best friends too. He fears the worst because one of the two has been ripped from his life and worse he was the one that served them all those drinks.

Time seemed to stand still. The cab driver turns, “You are here, you owe me eight dollars,” as James snaps back into reality. He pays the driver with a tenner and races into the North Sydney Police Station.

It’s late and the duty sergeant is processing a drunk who has by the sound of it beaten up is wife. James, “Please sergeant could you quickly help me.”

The sergeant menacingly glances up, “If you want, then go get a McDonalds. Wait your turn mate.” Finally, what feels like a month of Sundays. “Yes!”

“There was an accident near Mr Wong’s and I would like to know if my mates are OK? Please sergeant!”

The sergeant takes a little pity on this lad who is looking quite panic stricken. “I heard them call it in, but I was concentrating on filling out a stolen car dossier, try the mortuary or the hospitals in the area, there is North Shore, the Royal and Clifton, nearby.”

“Thanks,” as James dashes for the exit. “Where first? The Royal is a government hospital and most likely where the cops would send someone.”

Slightly calmer he grabs his mobile and orders an Uber. 1 minute out. Again, running he speeds into the reception area and asks the receptionist whether they have had any car crash victims come in. Nurse, “Sorry mate, I have just come on duty.”

“There must be some records you can check for me,” begs James.

“Sure, but I would need to get the permission from my matron. She’s just gone to have her supper break, she should be back in an hour, Sorry!”

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