Friday, May 1, 2009

27 Another life in Another World


“How did you know Jack?”

“My best friend at school used to go out with him.”


Daphne laughed. “No, Cynthia.”

Tom thought back to the time when his brother was still alive. It seemed like another life in another world now. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

Daphne’s smile faded. She had been going to say, “Bit of a ladies’ man, was he?” But thought better of it. She sighed. “Such a tragic loss of life.”

Tom stared ahead at falling snow picked out by the headlights, nodded and mumbled a barely discernible, “Yes.”

The Range Rover turned into a dark lane. Tom couldn't swallow. His throat felt dry. He knew they were nearly there.

The frozen gravel crunched beneath the car wheels as they stopped in front of the embassy. Daphne took both hands off the steering wheel, pressed them hard against her breasts and took a deep breath. Tom watched her bare hands. He could see traces of blue veins throbbing beneath her white skin. Her fingers were all arched upwards with tension.

They opened the car doors and stepped out into the cold night. There was no moon; only the candles flickering inside the embassy broke the darkness. Daphne turned her key in the lock and pushed open the front door. Tom smelled burning candle smoke as his shadow danced in front of him with Daphne’s. They felt their way along the corridor, their fingers brushing against the rippled wallpaper.

Daphne led the way into the kitchen where three candles dripping wax onto saucers either side of a sink filled with dirty crockery illuminated their path to the back door.

As she led him out into the back garden, Tom's eyes looked just above the back of Daphne’s green Wellington boots. He hadn't noticed the firmness and muscularity of her legs before.

He followed her into the Steppe Inn. The ambassador stood behind a bar lined with candles, which gave his long, gaunt face a ghostly appearance.

Olof , Gerald and the Lockeys were huddled together in front of the bar, glasses in their hands.

“Hello Tom”

“Hi Olof, Gerald..” He hesitated before nodding to Jim Lockey and smiling faintly at his wife, Jenny. Jim’s freshly-shaven face shone in the candle light. The smell of his Old Spice aftershave dominated Jenny’s flowery perfume

“So what have you been up to this week, young man?”

Tom really didn’t want to speak to Lockey, but shrugged and said, “Nothing much.” Then added, “What about you?”

Jim Lockey’s eyes widened. He quaffed back a mouthful of beer from his pint glass, swilled it around in his mouth, gulped it down, placed the glass back down on the bar, exchanged looks with the ambassador and answered in a slightly-raised voice, “Embassy business.”

Olof broke the tension. “What would you like to drink?”

“That’s very kind of you. A pint please.”

The ambassador pulled the beer pump, handed Tom his drink, then turned round and poured himself a malt whisky.

Olof raised his glass. “Cheers.” He looked at Tom through his big, black-framed spectacles. “There’s been some trouble in U.B, I hear.”

Tom looked surprised. “What sort of trouble?”

“Clashes between anti-government demonstrators and the army; people being arrested. Have you seen anything?”

Jim Lockey leaned in, intensely interested.

Tom thought before answering, “Not much.”

Olof added, “Well, I haven’t seen anything. I’ve been working out at the site all week.”

“What exactly is it that you’re building out there?”

Gerald pushed his spectacles up and chuckled. “You’d never believe it.”

Jim stepped forward until his face was just a few inches from Tom’s. “I’ll show you to the library. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Two thoughts bolted into Tom’s mind: money; integrity. He chased them away. Everything was clear to him now.



  1. Ah! So much to catch up! Still intriguing as always. And I am happy there's more visitors from Mongolia, too. I am not sure if it's them but I have spread the news to certain people. :)

  2. Wow... not sure why I didn't stumble in here before... Will have to take my time to read from the beginning, so will be back soon.

    Time for a game now! Tag, you're it. Drop by and find out what to do.


  3. Wow, you're a really good writer, nice blog, I have bookmarked your site, keep it up!

  4. I love this blog! I'm crazy for photography, travel, and writing - so this is amazing. All the pictures are lovely and a quick look at your writing makes me want to read more. I'll have to comb through all your posts.
    I've bookmarked this blog. Take a look at mine if you like, but its not nearly as interesting as yours yet.

  5. why do i keep wanting this to be written from tom's pt of view? i know you have your reasons for writing from the omniscient narrator, and who am i to say, but still...i've wondered...i love the bar scene - wish i were there to pull up a stool and drink a pint (or two!) have a nice weekend! and watch out for those camels in the road!

  6. hi Ian, I love your writing. I have to catch up though. Maybe tomorrow...
    I don't know if you remember leaving a comment on my short story "Teenage Warrior" several days ago. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and for the wonderful advise about the dark background. I changed it and have received more visits than ever. Thanks so much!

  7. Thanks, Ian, for your kind post on my blog; while I usually post art sometimes the writer in me emerges - figures you'd notice:)
    I have a couple of installments to catch up on, I've been enjoying your story!

  8. I agree with Kim. Your descriptions are amazing. I feel like I´m there.