4: Destiny Calling
“Look, Colin,” Jon picked up a tea towel and began to dry the dishes. “You’re my closest friend and I hope you won’t be offended, but I’m telling you, that boy is a bloody world class pest. He’s taking a big lend of you and you’re letting him.”
I sighed heavily as I washed and put another plate on the drainer. As far as Sunday lunches went, it had been an uncomfortable and stressful one and I was relieved it was over. “I’m really sorry about today, Jon. Sam was even worse than usual and I wouldn’t have blamed you for walking out. I think he acts like that to cover the fact that he’s really quite shy and nervous.”
Jon gave a beautiful snort; it would have graced a racehorse. “Shy, my left buttock! He’s a brat, a selfish, manipulative monster who revels in being the centre of attention. He loves winding people up.” He rubbed the tea towel across the plate so vigorously that I feared for the pattern. “ I’m telling you if he picks my pocket one more time I swear to God I’m going to thrash his backside black and blue and then I’m going to wring his neck.” He halted in his attempt to erase the pattern from my Staffordshire English tableware to glare at me and demand. “Are you sleeping with him?”
The abruptness of the question startled me. I flushed slightly. “No. I told you, he’s only staying here until he finds a new flat. He got beaten up and kicked out of his last place because his flat mate wanted his boyfriend to move in.”
“Hmm, that’s what he tells you. I’m not sure I believe his story in its entirety. I suspect he saw you as a soft touch from the moment he met you and set out to get his foot in the door.”
“I couldn’t leave him on the street, Jon,” I placed more dishes on the drainer, “not in the state he was in. I’m just helping out a fellow human being.”
Jon snorted again and I wondered if perhaps he was developing an allergy.
“Who are you trying to fool, Colin, because you’re not fooling me?” He polished the plate thoughtfully for a few moments. I waited, knowing from experience that he was mulling something over, and that in due course he’d share it. He gazed at me solemnly. “You’re besotted with that aggravating young man. I’ve seen the way you look at him and he all but throws himself at you, so why hasn’t anything happened?”
I shrugged, “I’m physically attracted to him, I won’t deny it, but I’m not a fool, Jon. A relationship with someone like Sam is not something to be considered lightly. I don’t know whether I could cope with him. It’s hard enough just having him around as a houseguest. He’s only been here two weeks and already he’s wreaked havoc. The neighbours detest him, my family hates him and you and Kit are practically the only two friends who haven’t been scared off by his insults and rudeness.” I paused, “by the way, Kit is still speaking to me isn’t he?”
Jon patted my shoulder, “of course he is. He really does have a bad headache, poor boy, that’s the only reason he didn’t come today. He prefers to be alone when he has a migraine. I left him safely tucked up in a darkened room”
Task over, I made coffee and we sat down to chat in peace. It didn’t last long.
We both jumped as Sam flounced crossly into the kitchen. “Very cosy, I’m sure. Is this a private conversation or can anyone join in?” Dragging out a chair he made a show of flopping down on it, “it’s a bit rude just leaving me sitting all alone and I notice you didn’t offer me a cup of coffee.”
“You said you were watching television, especially when I mentioned helping with the washing up,” I said evenly, “and you hardly ever drink coffee.”
“You could have offered me something else, tea, coke, milk, water...” Sam suddenly squinted. Shading his eyes with his hands he stared hard at Jon, “Jon darling, could you possibly turn your chair away from the window, only the sun keeps glancing off your folically bereft scalp and it’s dazzling me.”
“Sam!” I glared at him, deeply embarrassed by his rude remark; just one of many he’d made at Jon’s expense that day.
“Actually, young man,” Jon fixed Sam with a cold look, “this is a private conversation so kindly go away.”
Sam smirked annoyingly, making no effort to move, “don’t fret my pet, I won’t repeat a single syllable that I hear. I’m the very epitome of discretion, isn’t that right, Colin my loveliness?”
“Just go away, Sam, please.”
He pursed his lips, blowing me a mocking kiss, “you want me to stay really, go on admit it.”
My temper flared. Getting abruptly to my feet I took a firm hold of his elbow and levered him out of his chair. Propelling him across the kitchen I thrust him into the hall. “Go to your room, Sam,” I said sharply, and then hesitated, adding, “or out for a walk, just find something, anything to do. This is my house and I want some space and privacy without you crowding me and being obnoxious to my friends. I’m sick and tired of your snide remarks.”
He rubbed his arm in an exaggerated manner. “Fine, if that’s how you feel, I’ll take my offensive, unwanted presence elsewhere.” Snatching his sunglasses from the hall table he stormed out slamming the front door behind him.
“Don’t start feeling guilty.” Jon read me like a book as soon as I walked back into the kitchen. He continued, “If you’d gone with your natural instincts you’d have dealt with that properly. You almost did, but you stopped yourself.” He took a thoughtful swig of coffee then set his mug down and smiled at me gently. “Sam wants you, Colin, but he’s greedy, he wants all of you. He doesn’t want to share you in any way, that’s why he’s alienating your friends, cutting down the competition. May I give you some advice?”
I sat back down, trying to blink away the memory of the hurt look on Sam’s face as he’d stormed out, “will anything I say stop you doing so?”
Jon laughed and gave me a small wink, “nope, you’re going to be advised whether you like it or not.” He took a deep breath. “Get rid of him. He’s bad news. Pack his stuff today and tell him to get on his way, then forget you ever met him.”
A current of shock ran through me at his words. I hadn’t expected such stark advice. My stomach lurched unpleasantly.
Leaning across the table Jon placed his index finger under my chin and gently closed my mouth. “No. I didn’t think you wanted to hear advice like that. In that case,” he leaned back in his chair, “make up your bloody mind whether or not you’re willing to commit to a full relationship with that boy, because anything half hearted just won’t do. If the answer is yes, then do something about it. State your intentions and then take him in hand, because God knows he needs it. I’ve been watching the way he acts around you and I get a strong feeling that he senses that you can give him something that no one else can. To my mind he’s subconsciously pushing you to take charge of him. He needs structure and discipline. I know you can do it, Colin, follow your natural instincts. Give him attention, but on your terms, not his, or he’ll take you both to hell. I can’t honestly say I like Sam, but I like you, and if you decide to try and make a go of things with him, you can count on my support.”
I stared at him silently...make a go of things with Sam? It would be tantamount to making a pact with the devil. Was I ready to sell my soul?
Jon once again read my mind with startling accuracy. “Your soul is already sold,” he said dryly, “I’ve seen the look on your face when Lucifer smiles at you.”
The doorbell rang stridently and I jumped. Sam no doubt, he was always forgetting his key. I stood up.
“Destiny calling, Colin,” Jon gave me an odd little look, “are you going to embrace or reject it?”
I said nothing, still uncertain of the answer. Rising to my feet I went to open the door.
“Why can’t you remember to take your...oh, sorry,” I halted, frozen to the spot by the icy glare of her at number seventeen.
“Your lunatic lodger,” she ground out between clenched teeth, it was funny how Sam had that affect on people’s dental fixings, “is paddling in my ornamental fish pond and if you don’t come and get him out, I’m going to call the police!”
I groaned, offered profuse apologies and decided there and then that the only thing I really wanted to embrace was Sam’s throat with my hands...very, very tightly.
“But, darling,” Sam, wading around amongst a throng of bemused goldfish, grinned gleefully at me. “You told me to find something to do, so I did. Come on in, the water’s divine and the little fishies tickle.”
He playfully splashed us and I reminded myself that murder still carried a heavy penalty, though in this case I doubted a jury in the land would convict me. Mindful of the baleful eye of Mrs number seventeen boring holes of hatred into me, I hurriedly picked up his discarded socks and shoes and grabbed a hold of him.
“Bye,” he waved cheerily to her as I dragged him down the street. “Thanks for the pool party. We must do it again sometime; it was just ducky. Just one word of advice, that lipstick, it might look good on a corpse, but not on you...give it up, dear!”
Thrusting him into the house I banged the door behind us. “Why must you do things like that?”
He scowled. “I was keeping out of your precious space wasn’t I, that’s what you wanted?”
“You knew she’d come for me, it was just another way of annoying me.” I ran my hand through my hair, “why can’t you behave...” I broke off.
He gave a sly grin, “normally...isn’t that what you were going to say?”
“Properly, decently,” I snapped. “Instead of like a total shit.” He blew me one of his mocking kisses and I turned and walked away before I gave in to the urge to wallop his arse. Jon would say that it was an urge that needed to be given in to. He had said on more than one occasion that Sam needed a damn good spanking. He looked at me seriously as I explained what had happened.
“You should have let her call the police. You didn’t have to get involved. After all, he’s not your responsibility...is he?”
Jon patted my shoulder sympathetically and then prepared to take his leave. “Make up your mind, Colin, before he drives you round the bend.”
I watched him drive off wishing I were a passenger in his car.
“Has stock cube man gone then?” Sam tripped back into the room where I was sitting on the couch, hunched over a book, although I’d read the same paragraph about six times and still hadn’t taken in a word of it. He flung himself on the couch, swinging his legs up and plonking his feet on my lap.
I pushed them off and glared at him, quelling the small surge of excitement that always occurred at any physical contact with him. “Stock cube man, what do you mean?”
“Oh come on, you know what I mean, your friend Jon. Darling he’s so square he’s got corners. What do you see in him and his dull little sub? Where was pussy boy today by the way, at the vets?”
“Kit, his name is Kit as well you know, and what I see in them is loyalty and good friendship, concepts that are obviously alien to you, along with courtesy and notions of appropriate behaviour.”
“Oooh...got our claws unsheathed today, haven’t we duckylove?” He gave me a cheeky wink. “Lack of sex, that’s what it is. It’s making you bitter, why don’t we go upstairs and make you sweet again?”
Closing my book with a snap I reached forward and picked up Saturday’s local newspaper from the coffee table, handing it to him. “I’ve been checking the paper for accommodation, there’s two or three likely prospects there. I’ve ringed them for you, make sure you check them out tomorrow.” I walked out of the room.
Next day he bought me flowers, a huge bunch of stargazer lilies, which he arranged beautifully in a pale green vase, setting them beside my bed. I was rather touched, bending to inhale their perfume. I sensed him watching me, turning to find him standing in the bedroom doorway. He smiled, one of his real smiles, uncluttered by malicious mischief. My stomach gave a familiar little jump of pleasure and I sternly reminded it that Sam was a first class nuisance and didn’t deserve its allegiance.
“I just wanted to say sorry about yesterday. I don’t know why I get like that sometimes. My mouth just seems to run away with itself. I was a real pain in the arse.”
“Yes,” I nodded agreement, “you were obnoxious. It would be nice if you apologised to Jon, as well as her at number seventeen. Thank you for the flowers, they’re lovely.” Telling my stomach to keep a hold of its emotions I hardened myself and asked, “did you check out those flats?”
To give Sam his due he had indeed checked them out and apparently by the time he’d finished checking them out the prospective flatmates were his mortal enemies. One had even threatened to take out a restraining order should Sam so much as walk past the end of her street again. I empathised with her totally. I sighed as his tale of woe drew to an end. It seemed I was stuck with Sam for a while longer. Suddenly the scent from the flowers seemed a touch overpowering. I comforted myself with the thought that he couldn’t possibly get anymore outrageous and infuriating than he already was.
Copyright Cat/Fabian Black 2010