What really was important
Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home, and oh, by the way
- “Coming Up Close”, as sung by Til Tuesday
Four and a half years ago…
Deetz rose at dawn, did a Tai Chi workout, and ate some oatmeal. Two days ago, Angus had ordered a truck and food from a broker in town. It was delivered to the cottage - a four-passenger Ford F-250 loaded with nonperishable foodstuff from a prepper supply company called My Patriot Supply, and a box of miscellaneous tools. A note was taped to the passenger side: I have to run into town for a couple of hours. Business. I should be back before 1 pm – Angus. Initially, Deetz wondered if Angus had changed his mind, chickened out. Even so, I can drive to Cousin Scarlett’s myself, he said as a self-distraction. Meanwhile, he concentrated on loading Sugar, focusing primarily on organizing the kitchen stuff and checking the satellite service.
Ciara and family found him shortly afterwards on the caravan’s roof. “Wow, big brother! It’s brilliant! I didn’t know you were this handy.”
Tom and she walked around the motorhome. Tom asked, “And you say we all could sleep comfortably? I believe it! This thing is huge.”
“According to the foreclosure letters I found on the floor,” Deetz said, “the bank was supposed to repossess it three years ago. The former owner must have hidden it to stick it to the bank.” Deetz got down from the roof then continued, “When I discovered it, the inside was a mess but the inspector found no signs of delamination, the structural foundation was quite sound, and the fibreglass siding only needed cleaning and some laminate replacement.” He pulled from his jeans back pocket some paperwork and gave it to Ciara as if she did architectural design as a side hustle. He continued, “It is a 2010 Jayco North Point, a good production year with recalls and consumer complaints down by 37%.” Deetz pressed a panel on the lower center of the caravan and pulled out the external kitchen grill, mini icebox, and pointed to the storage portion packed with picnic necessities. “I added these treats. Who wants to stay inside all the time, right?”
Deetz was beaming and opened the side door like B.T. Barnum welcomed new suckers onto the through-fare. The first thing you saw attached to the treated wood panelled entrance wall was a print of the lobby card poster for the 1925 silent version of Ben-Hur. Next to it was the Reese family crest and a little plaque thanking the others that helped, Tom, Ciara’s medical assistant, and, of course, Brandi who help Cook make lemonade on several hot days.
At that moment, the little scamp ran around her mum to get inside the motor home. She looked to the left then the right and decided to go left, into the indoor kitchen area. She ran around the island then Brandi dropped on the grey leather love seat across from the internal entertainment centre. “Can I stay with you in the motorhome, Uncle Deetz?” To her, about three-years-old at the time, this was a trip to fantasy island.
Deetz came up and lifted her in the air. “As long as you promise not to put your feet on the couch. How about that?!!!” He put her down and waited for her to sit up properly. Only then did he hand her the remote. She wildly pushed buttons gleefully.
Tom was gawking at the appliances. “Full-size residential refrigerator?”
“Yeah,” Deetz answered, opening the top door of the four-door icebox, “Boyfriend insisted that his appetite warranted the size.”
Ciara checked the burners on the stove and peeked in some of the cabinetry. “Oh, so you two have plans on travelling rather regularly, eh.” She winked at Tom.
“Okay you two!” Deetz said. He distracted them with, “There’s a queen-size, pull out bed just behind the full couch to the right of the entertainment system.” He pointed then walked toward the space to the left of the kitchen. “This is the separate room I added for Brandi and whoever wants to tag along.” He patted the bunk beds and pointed to the 32” TV above the built-in desk. “Angus picked the color scheme. I would have gone for something lighter, like a pine, but he thought a red mahogany worked better with the mirrored walls.” Deetz shrugged and escorted them out the room. Past the kitchen, past the entrance and up two small steps to the left was the bathroom.
“Ah that’s a decent size. I’ve seen somewhere one could barely turn around. And the seat on the right side of the shower is quite nice but I don’t think ya’ll will be shaving your legs anytime soon!” Ciara laughed.
Deetz took them to the master bedroom in the back of the van. He grabbed a 2nd remote from the entry wall and used it to pull up the blinds on all four rectangular windows. “I really like the amount of natural light you can get in here. And the room has a sound buffer.”
“Yeah,” teased Tom, “like you two will do much window gazing!”
“Oi! Maybe there will be people looking in!” Ciara laughed.
Deetz frowned. “Seriously you two! We haven’t done anything and who knows if it ever will happen.”
“Interesting way to phrase it!” replied Tom. He sat on the queen-size bed and bounced a few times then ran his hand across the comforter. “I don’t know about you dude, but I’d be taking advantage of the buoyancy of this particular piece of furniture!” He and Ciara let out another big laugh at that.
She sat next to her husband and bounced a bit herself. “Seriously, you did a brilliant job, Deetz; you and Angus. But even you have to admit it is rather . . . cozy.” She happened to glance across the space and saw hanging plant above the window across from the bed. “Are you kidding? Are you trying to get arrested?”
Deetz dashed up and feigned distress at any hint of harm coming to this precious plant. “I’ll have you know that Angus brought this straight from his dispensary in California!”
Tom whispered, “He owns a dispensary?”
“He has a franchise in all of the States where sale is legal – Miki-D’s. To hear him, it is the fastest-growing crop product the Americans have,” he smiled at the plant, kissed it and looped it back on its hook.
Ciara rolled her eyes but still asked, “When do you leave?”
“Angus said he’d be here around 1,” Deetz replied. “Will take off shortly thereafter, hopefully.”
“How long will you be gone?” Tom inquired.
Deetz hadn’t thought about it until that moment but felt it was best to say, “Only a couple of days.”
Everyone but Brandi came outside while Deetz continued to describe the workings of an recreational vehicle as if describing a pregnant woman. Just then, Angus came through the gardens carrying a large duffle bag. “Hey you!” He said walking up to them. “Right, got done early. Are you two here to see us off?” He went up to Deetz, put his arm around the other man’s waist and kissed his cheek – just in time for Brandi to come out of the cabin.
“Oh, Uncle Deetz? Are you going to marry Uncle Angus? My friend Jilly has two daddies so when I see her, I can say I have two uncles!”
Everyone froze except Angus, who bent down to the child and replied, “Well, your Uncle Deetz and I are just getting to know each other, so I’d say a wedding is possible but we won’t know for sure until we get back.”
Brandi nodded as if it was all perfectly logical and straight forward, “Right, oh okay! Let me know the date because I want to be the girl that throws flowers at people.”
Ciara decided to corral her daughter before Deetz’s face became any more tomato red. “Okay luv, let’s let them get on their way now.” She kissed her brother. “Have a good trip!”
“You did a nice job, man,” Tom said to Angus while hugging him then Deetz.
They watched the cute family walk back to the estate until they had no choice but to finally look at one another. Deetz spoke first. “Are we going to do this?”
“Fuck yeah!” replied Angus as he entered the motorhome, “I didn’t do all this work to watch you take off in it alone!”
Within an hour, they had loaded all the equipment they imaged they would need and took off to Anglesey Castle in north-west Wales on a hill overlooking the Menai Straits. It was a grand place, bigger than Morganwg and built in the 16th century. It was the youngest of the castles in the area, most of which dated to the early middle ages. The house, garden, and adjoining buildings were given to the First Marquess of Anglesey, Henry William Paget, for heroism during the Battle of Waterloo. Paget was a distant cousin of Tison Reese, the 3rd Earl of Glamorgan. In the ‘70s, the property was taken over by the National Trust and turned into a tourist destination but the family was allowed rooms in the estate in perpetuity. When the 8th Marquess died, his widow, the woman Angus and Deetz’s had always known as Cousin Scarlett, became the caretaker. “We’ll park at GeoMôn Caravan Park across from the castle’s main entrance. It’s only 15 minutes away from her on Cildwin Road. At this speed, we should around in time for tea.” Deetz, who was driving at the time, cleared his throat then said, “By the way, this happens to be ‘Bears, Boys, and Beach’ Week at the park.”
“What’s that?” asked Angus who was looking at Google maps.
“An annual festival where men hang out and . . . well, … do things . . . outside,” Deetz said trying to pick up Angus’s feelings on the matter. To hedge his bets, Deetz added, “They always have great music acts too and lots of dancing.”
“And frolicking, eh? Gosh, I wouldn’t have taken you for a prude. If I didn’t know better, I would think you were trying to turn me out, Deetz Mac Innes!”
Good sign, Deetz thought. “It should be fun. I used to go before I quit drinking. Maybe some of the old crowd is still there.”
Angus became distracted by an email and only mumbled, “Sure. Sounds like fun.”
The motorhome park was quite crowded but Deetz was able to snag the last pull-through spot. Getting out of the truck he noted several burly men clearly in the BDSM life already on the hookup hunt even though the festival didn’t officially open until tomorrow. Across from them were a handful of “look-at-me” twinks who waved at Deetz while he attached Sugar into the camp’s electrical and water system. Deetz politely but firmly waved “no” and the boys pouted loudly until Angus came out. “We’re here 5 minutes and you already have admirers!” He grabbed Deetz into his arms and gave him a long sloppy kiss then threw out, “Sorry boys but this one is mine!” This got loud applause and Angus bowed as he and Deetz got back into the cabin. Before closing and locking the RV’s door, Angus put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the handle. “We’ll do group sex tomorrow.”
“Excuse me?” Deetz asked. “Do you plan on selling me after you’ve had your way with me tonight?” Deetz activated the kitchen slide out then took a fold-way table and some other items with Hebrew lettering on them from a black portable file box. He put his blue and white yarmulke on and set two candles on this small, tall table.
Angus looked at him strangely. “What are you doing?”
“Ah, it is Friday at sundown. I need to do Shabbat prayers.”
“I thought your sister did that.”
“When I am home, she does. In Jewish families, the oldest female leads the family in prayer. But, right now, it’s just me. Unless you join in.” He offered a black yarmulke.
“Right, sorry but religion gives me hives. All that pleading for his grace and shit. No, I stopped going to church as soon as my parents let me.”
“You go for Dynion Mwyn rituals at the Druidic temple circles with Lady Nora,” Deetz said.
“Only because she makes me. She acts all infirmed and guilts me into walking with her in case she falls,” Angus said shaking his head. “That woman is probably going to outlive all of us!”
“Ah, well, give me a few minutes,” replied Deetz as he returned to organizing his oblations. He opened a bottle of grape juice and poured it into a blue ceramic cup then put two short LED candles into silver holders. “Oh, I almost forgot,” he said aloud to himself and reached past Angus for the challah bread on the kitchen island. He put it under an embroidered cover. Deetz twisted the faux flame so it would light, moved his hands over the “candles” and waved imaginary flames toward him three times, then put his hands over his eyes. He recited the blessing, “Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, Melekh ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Shabbat (Blessed are You, LORD our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has sanctified us with commandments and commanded us to light the Shabbat candles).
Angus stepped out of the room and sat on the bed, listening to Deetz’s chanting. He had few occasions in the past on which he saw Deetz act Jewish. As children, every Friday and Saturday night Deetz’s father took his son to some synagogue in Cardiff. Angus remembered waiting as a child, much like he was doing now, for Deetz to get home so the two of them could scampered off somewhere in the house to find trouble. Angus missed Deetz’s bar mitzvah because he was already away at school. Although Deetz had talked about becoming a rabbi since they were kids, Angus didn’t think it was real, just kid talk. Now that it was real, Angus didn’t know how he felt about it.
Deetz was used to people looking at him with odd stares. From a distance and without explanation, Jewish prayer services look rather cultish, he had to admit. But he had learned to ignore those looks and move forward until the awkwardness past. When he was done and had replaced his things, Deetz simply started his mise en place for their tea.
“Hey, I wasn’t trying to chase you out,” Deetz yelled as he started to cut onions. “Are you hungry?”
“I’m alright,” Angus said as he came up to Deetz and took the knife out of his hand.
“Well, no, not really but I know you will be very soon.”
Angus put the knife on the cutting board. “I’m hungry now,” he said in a husky voice. He took the man’s hand and pulled him to him. “I want to finish that kiss we had outside.”
Deetz, offering feign resistance, said, “And here I thought you were protecting my honour!”
“Only so I can ruin it,” he said as Deetz let him kiss him. His lips felt soft while they brushed over Deetz’s neck. “I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment.”
He’s been waiting? Deetz thought before Angus found that spot just behind his ear.
Then Angus’s mobile rang with that loud insistent buzz that means either family member has died or a business deal is about to sink. He pulled away abruptly as he grabbed off the island. “It’s Cousin Scarlett, he said, “Should I lie?” He looked up and winked at Deetz.
“No, she’ll just call your grandmother then Lady Nora’ll be calling,” Deetz groaned unhappily.
Angus shrugged and answered. “Cousin Scarlet!” Pause. “Yes, well we only just got here.” Another pause. “Tea, yes we’ll be there very soon for tea. I have just a few things . . .” Yet another pause. “Right, yes, we’ll be there right away. Yes, bye!”
Deetz laughed at him. “You really are such a pussy when it comes to older women!”
Angus frowned and rolled his eyes. “I find it is just easier this way. Deny them, and you get months of moan-fulled recriminations via Facebook, yuk!” He walked to the bathroom, begin the shower water, and got in to proceed to masturbate.
The trail up to Anglesey Castle was as it always been, a steep, winding dirt road. Only now there were tourist signs posted in four different languages with pithy encouragements like Anglesey Castle this way; London 440km that way. The hanging foliage was stunning yet so dense in places that it nearly blocked the sun. “I feel like I’m in an Elder Scrolls game,” joked Deetz. “Something could jump out and attack us. Will you protect me, oh grand prince?”
“Damn, and me having left my ebony broadsword and my healing potions back at the hut!” They both laughed. It was similar jokes that let the time pass as they walked and deftly avoided what they really wanted to say and know.
The entrance to the family section was nondescript so tourists wouldn’t wander outside the family garden and come upon a 73-year-old woman sunbathing. The boys entered through the former servants’ door. The entryway led to a nook to store shoes assuredly full of mud after walking up the hill (when you returned, they would be cleaned) and hang your jacket. To the right were stairs down to the kitchen (recently remodelled) and to the left was a hallway to the “junior” main hall. It was once a second entryway for senior help staff at one point but was shuttered as the grand hall was given over to the tourists.
Standing in this rotunda, you had many choices – up the stairs to the bedrooms and baths, and on the ground floor, a dining room that comfortably seats eighteen and a family library that requires a part-time curator. But what Scarlett Lancing-Paget, originally the Duchess of Cranburk, did like about the estate was the garden with a combination of an indoor and outdoor patio. It was lush like Lady Nora’s but with radically different flora that creeped out and around like the flowers were going to attack you soon. As children, the boys hated it (too creepy!) and wouldn’t go inside unless forced by their parents.
“Tsk! Cook is furious with you!” Scarlett sat in a white rattan chair similar to Lady Nora’s. They leaned over to kiss her cheek. “She claims the only food suitable now is sandwiches! I swear that woman’s going to be the death of me.” She put her tablet where she was reading the London Times on the matching side table. “Sit, sit,” she said pressing a button on that same table, “I’m supposed to use this thing to call the servants but I keep screwing up the app.” The boys sat in the wicker love seat across from her.
“Excuse me, your Grace,” said a butler that had to be Simm’s twin brother, as he entered the room, “Cook wanted me to give you these choices in your tea now that the Masters have arrived. She said you could take sandwiches now or wait thirty minutes and she will serve the lasagna his Grace enjoys.”
“Ah, well that would explain why she grumbled when I asked for brisket!” commented Scarlett. “Tell her we’d welcome lasagna then serve us drinks.” She handed her snifter to him. “You two?”
“Scotch, make it a double,” replied Angus.
“Just water with a bit of lemon for me, thank you,” answered Deetz, giving the man a nod. The butler had known his father but didn’t like him for his own reasons. He offered Deetz a knowing smile then turned heel toward his tasks.
“So, you two came here now why?” asked Cousin Scarlett bluntly. “Are you choosing the Rhwymo Eneidiau (the binding of souls). I had insisted your parents talk with you both about it sooner. Learning about the curse after your fathers’ death, terribly poor timing. I reckoned you were coming to learn about it from me until I realized this was gay flock season. I guess you have already made up your minds.” She waved her drink accusatorily at valet’s child, “Deetz, you should be ashamed of yourself. He can’t be really ready for all that?”
“How many times have you been to this Deetz?” asked an irritated Angus. “And for the record, I’ve been to my fair share of gay events!”
“Oi! It hasn’t been called ‘gay’ in decades – queer or LGBTQ. Really!” Deetz leaned over and semi-whispered in Angus’s ear, “Cousin Scarlett has been hosting this event for 25 years.”
“Yes, I have,” she said boldly. She pointed her thin, pointy finger toward Deetz like a queen with a declaration. “That’s how I got this one turned out. He was so scared, scared his father would find out – never did, not from me that is.”
“How old were you?”
Deetz blushed, “Every summer from the time I was fifteen, I think.” He remembered it fondly as moments of unfettered self-exploration and a sense of freedom that likely spared him the full force of sexual conformity and homophobia. “It took me a while before I did more than watch.”
“And come back here to masturbate!” The butler came in with a tray full of drinks which he placed on the wicker coffee table between them. Scarlett nodded to him and he disappeared. “I had to get sheets just for him. And I never quite understood the spots on the bathroom ceiling . . .”
“Cousin Scarlett!” interrupted Angus. “TMI, okay?”
She brushed him off with, “You should know the kind of man you’re marrying!” She rose slowly but steadier with a staff of solid oak that she was never without, particularly after her hip replacement.
Angus stuttered, “I . . . we never said anything about that.”
She walked off toward the hall and then the library. “You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to know the curse,” she shouted back to them. They sat there not looking at one another and hoping she’d be back soon or that lasagna baked in 2 minutes. Scarlett returned and as she passed Deetz he realized why the adults around him when he was a kid said she was “Audrey Hepburn’s twin sister”.
She was carrying two rather large, dusty books. She sat in her regal chair and began flipping pages in one then another, looking for something. “You should have those digitized,” mentioned Angus which earned him a raised eyebrow.
“Ah! Here it is,” she removed a piece of paper from one of the books. “It’s actually written in Welsh and English – she didn’t want any confusion.” Scarlett reached over and handed it to Angus then continued, “The first portion binds the oldest from both families who fill the roles of earl and head footman or valet to the Crown. Both must be ready to serve at its whim.”
“What if the firstborn were female?” asked Deetz.
“It was the late 1800s, luv. Victoria was lucky she held onto the crown,” Scarlett explained. “Many at court were encouraging Albert to keep his wife on a tight leash so that the men could do the job of governing.” Angus, with an irritated look on his face, handed Deetz the document. “But she was shrewd, always a step ahead of them, bless her heart!”
Deetz, reading for himself, said, “It’s saying something about we are to be condemned to ‘blasphemy and eternal damnation’ by the Reese’s ‘obsession with sodomy’” He thought for a moment then asked, “My father and his father never . . . did they?”
Scarlett shook her head, “No, after the Great War and the tragedy between Peter Reese and Solomon Mac Innes, a cure was sought to curtail the attraction. When what was called “the fever” arose at puberty, a special Kabbalistic tome was added by the mother to the Mac Innes boy’s bar mitzvah ritual while the Reese boy was given an Eglurder, or clarity, potion each day for three moon cycles.”
“I remember that stuff,” replied Angus with an upturned nose. “It was horrid and folks refused to tell me why, plying me with crap about health benefits!”
Deetz asked, “But it didn’t work, now did it?” He gave Angus a side glance. “I mean, he is rather . . . keen. And I, . . . well, . . . and I am open to such things.”
Scarlett took a medicinal sip of her rich oak, single cask Penderyn. “Both were done but intentionality has great force in Druidic spells. The spell cast by Queen Victoria against the families had dubious motives and the Divine Spirits don’t take kindly to that. The latter may have added certain caveats to allow for genuine love where such existed naturally. This explains your great-grandfathers, Ianto Reese and Joshua Mac Innes, who’s devotion to one another during the Second World War is legendary.”
“I reckon that explains me but what about Angus?”
“Nothing happened because I didn’t take it as I was supposed,” Angus realized. “I would cheek it and spit it out later or conveniently divert my parent’s attention whenever I could. Shortly thereafter, I went away to school.”
Deetz asked, “So why now? Why now after all these years.”
Angus shrugged, “When I returned from school, you were gone and visa versa – it is likely dependent on proximity.”
Scarlett looked at both before saying. “So, I surmise you two haven’t had sex yet.”
Both of them quietly admitted, “No.”
She wagged her finger again at Deetz. “Not due to this one’s self-control!”
Deetz, slightly offended, “I’ll have you know, my lady, that I’ve been the sensible one in this situation!” He looked at Angus and continued, “He’s been clawing at me since he picked me up in Thailand.”
“Right! I didn’t see you pulling out of that last kiss, Mate!” responded Angus who took offence to Deetz’s implication. “If I knew you felt that way about it, I would have stayed at Morganwg!”
Deetz felt bad. He grasped Angus’s pinky finger with his. “I’m sorry, that was cruel.” A slightly uncomfortable Angus grinned but pulled his hand away. “Ma’am,” asked Deetz, “what do we do about this?”
She sighed. “If you don’t want to be bond to one another forever, then I suggest you separate immediately and that you, Deetz, never return to Morganwg.”
“Are you kidding? My sister . . . my family is there. My childhood was there and there were some nice parts too, I’ll have you know.” Angus said nothing, just stared at his fingers like a guilty six-year-old. “Can I come to Redrow at least?”
“I would suspect the closer you are, the more difficult it will be to keep away from one another.”
Angus, trying to wrap his head around it, exclaimed, “But, these . . . these feelings started when I left Belgium going to Thailand. I was nowhere near him and I swear . . . I swear I could . . . I could smell the sweat on his neck as soon as the plane took off!”
“When you called, I was practising new Muay Thai strikes.” Then Deetz realized something. “That’s why you hugged me so long? Why you like to kiss my neck? You were getting off!”
“No,” Angus admitted, “I did that before I got there. Flying back was a mess.”
“Right, well now I’m calling TMI,” grinned Scarlett. She put the books on the side table and took her drink in her hand, leaning forward to emphasize her words. “You two have a decision to make – walk away now and things go back to normal; stay together, fuck and you’re bonded to each other for life. The first couple tried to part after the curse.”
Deetz asked, “What happened?”
“Jacob Mac Innes tried to kill himself. His wife saved him. It is in these books and others.” The butler arrived announcing that tea would be served in 2 minutes. Scarlett got up with her cane. She walked toward the boys and took both their hands. “I can only pray you two know the right choice!” She turned and walked out of the room. The boys realized they were alone again then hurried behind her.
Later, immediately after the boys left, Scarlett called Nora. “Hello, luv!” Scarlett started. “It is done, they know what they need to. And no, they didn’t ask about the work for the crown but that can wait.”
“How did they take it?” asked Nora.
“As well as could be expected. Things have already progressed, so to speak.”
“They have to fuck to activate the spell fully. I know young people call damn near everything sex now, but I mean then . . . well, if they don’t, Deetz will remain distant. That assault as a child has to be overcome!”
“I know,” sighed Nora. After a moment of silence, she asked, “Do you think it will happen?”
“I’m afraid it’s up to Deetz,” Scarlett admitted. “Maybe we should pray to that Hashem of his!”
Nora, turning to a set of candles burning next to some slices of challah and a bright merlot, said, “I already have.”
The excuse for taking the tourist coach back to the campgrounds was that it was too dark to walk the path. The truth was both men had a decision to make. Angus was bothered that so much of this was out of his control due to a monarch who had been dead over a hundred years – talk about sins of the father being visited on the son! he thought as they alighted the bus. They were blessed by not having to sit next to one another during the six-minute drive amongst noisy tourists contorting themselves to get the best selfie.
As for Deetz, his mind kept asking why was the queen so angry with their ancestors? Doing this allowed him to postpone the decision he had to make – somehow it seemed the ball was in his court. This shouldn’t bother me this much! he nearly said aloud as they got off the bus at the bottom of the hill. Ciara and family will visit me no matter where I am; she would understand. Plus, he was certain his niece would be a good traveller. But when Deetz turned around to see Angus get off the bus, he couldn’t deny the fluttering of his heart nor could he stop the sheepish smile he offered as Angus walked up to him.
Angus took Deetz’s hand. “Let’s go home. We’ve got a lot to talk about.” Deetz nodded. And the two of them walked hand-in-hand back to Sugar clear on what they wanted but not on how to get there.
Don't you know that I could make
A dream that's barely half-awake come true
I wanted to say
But anything I could have said
I felt somehow that you already knew
- “Coming Up Close”, as sung by Til Tuesday
Jack hung on every word like a ten-year-old at the opening of the Wizard of Oz. But enough had been said. “Your turn,” Deetz stated, “And what about that cute filly with you, Toni? Does she know? She seems quite keen.”
“Yes, ah, she knows. You can’t travel and work together 10 hours a day for 300 days a year and stuff not get out.”
“What are you waiting for then Mate?”
“You took a chance and look what happened?”
Deetz thought a moment, then replied, “Honestly, it was worth it. Tennyson taught us that ‘'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’. I mean, how many people get a chance to enjoy a night with their childhood crush?”
“It was a little bit more than a night!” Jack said. He looked for his phone. “I want to thank you for your time, honesty and your sister’s good booze, Mr. Mac Innes.”
“Deetz then.” He looked at his watch. “Oh, shit! I promised I meet Toni before the wedding dinner and I still have to change.” Jack gathered his things. “And who has a party before the party? What exactly is tonight?” He drained his glass. “I wish you the best in Israel.” They shook hands and Jack left.
Deetz double-locked the door then sat on the couch. Jack is a decent bloke, he thought. Hopefully, he gives Toni a chance. He wanted to believe his story was helpful in some way, as if he’d performed a kavanah, the Jewish version of paying something forward. It was at that moment that Deetz accepted that his marriage was over. He didn’t cry or throw things. He didn’t relapse (though he was very tempted!) or consider suicide.
Instead, he got up and finished packing.