MF, Chapter 26




“That was very intense.”  Cody’s head was snuggled into Luigi’s shoulder.

Luigi wondered for a moment that he had become the strong one in their relationship.  Him.  An effeminate queen.  Cody was Mr Macho.  Mr Muscles.  Mr Straight-Acting.  By rights it should have been his head snug on Cody’s shoulder, him protected by Cody.  Not the other way round.  But Dio! he would protect him.  They would find the killer and deal with him.  A thousand years of Calabrian peasant ancestors showed in his tight mouth and hard eyes.

“What?” asked Cody, startled.

“What what?”

“You tensed up.”

“I was thinking …” his phone rang.  “…hang on a tick.”

It was Colin, the policeman from Mt Macedon.  Luigi felt absurdly, shy, as if the other man could see down the phone line and see them both lying on the sofa in the aftermath of sex, covered with sweat and cum and lube, arm-in-arm, sated with love-making.

“Oh, hi!”

“I’m on my way into the city.”

Ridiculously, Luigi felt that he didn’t want him now.  “Oh, good!” he said with fake enthusiasm.

“Is it a bad time?  I have to do this in my off-time.”

“Oh!  No!  This is perfect.”





“That was Colin.  He’ll be here in half an hour.  We’d better shower,” observed Luigi.

“Now why would we bother, I ask myself,” said Cody very drily.

“Ask you why, Yody? It is the power of the force.”

“Yeh, that force I felt.  Powerful is it, too.”

“C’mon.  We stink.”

They did.  But secretly both liked the smells: sex, lube, sweat, men; pheromones of all kinds.

They walked through to the shower naked.  In the shower, they soaped each other up, and felt each other up, too.  Luigi reached round to lather up Cody bum crack and felt the plug, still embedded in him.

“Feels good, does it?”

“Yeah.  But I’d better take it out.  It’ll distract me.  Every time I sit down I’ll feel it in me.  And it’ll remind me of ….”

Luigi pulled it out, carefully.  Unable to stop himself, he kissed Cody.  They both sprouted half boners.

“Amazing, isn’t it?  We’ve only just come and already they’re up for more.”

“Not to mention that this is the second time today.”

They rinsed off and went through to the bedroom.

Luigi put the clean plug back in the packet, and put the packet in the drawer next to his bed.  Gay-friendly as Colin was, he might be fazed by a plug, let alone a packet full of them with the monster black one emperor of them all, its head clearly visible.

For a moment, Luigi thought about ‘power of the dark side’ and smiled.  They would have to watch the rest of the DVD later.





Colin was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and a leather jacket.  To Luigi’s untutored eye, he didn’t look at all like a policeman.  In fact he looked cute.  And sexy.  He’s a married man and he’s straight.  Behave yourself!

“Come in, Colin!  Would you like some tea or coffee? ”

“Nah.  Thanks.  I’d like to get back to Macedon as soon as I can.”

“Thank you for coming to see us.  We really appreciate it.”

“Were the ‘tecs really that bad?”

Luigi’s face hardened as he remembered their complete lack of concern and the barely hidden sneers as they conducted the interview.  “They obviously thought that Cody and I were a bunch of homos who got ourselves into trouble and why should they bother, really.”

Cody nodded.  “Yes.  They made me feel that I was dirty.  Worthless.  It wasn’t so much what they said as how they said it.  They reeked of it.”

Colin sighed.  “Yeah.  That happens.  Lots of old guard policemen who are homophobic, sexist …  yeah.  Sorry.”

“Not your fault!” Luigi assured him.  “You were wonderful.”  He smiled warmly at Colin and was amused to see him colour a little.  “Anyway, Cody and I have done a little research.  Not that we’ve learned much.”

“You were careful, I hope.”  Colin looked stern.

“Yeah.  ‘Course we were.  Cody wore a cap and aviator glasses and a worn leather jacket we bought on Smith Street.  And the killer hasn’t seen me.”

“You don’t know that.”

Luigi was taken aback. “Well … but … weren’t they all random pickups?”

“How do we know that?  There could have been some connection.  Say, perhaps, that they all worked out at a gym.”

“Jeez.  I never thought of that.”

“I’m not saying there is that sort of connection, but there may be.  You should be careful.  He’s killed before. 5 guys? 6?  We don’t know. ”





“Yeah, well, OK.  But who else is going to do it?”

“Me.”  Colin wasn’t smiling.  His expression was perfectly sincere.  And completely serious.

“Well, let’s tell you what we found out,” said Luigi firmly.  “Cody, tell him about how you saw the killer.”

“Lou and I were having brekker on Smith Street at a pavement café when I saw him.  He was walking along the pavement.”

“How sure are you that it was him?”

“I …. Pretty sure.  I got to know his face pretty well.”  Cody stopped and swallowed.

“Yeah.  But … when he was … you know … he looked different.  So I’m not 100% sure. The guy on Brunswick Street looked so …. normal.  Ordinary.  But when …. then … he looked mental.  There was …  Jesus!  His eyes were … fucking terrifying.”

“Did he see you?”

“No.”  Cody was quite sure of that.

“Good.  With any luck he doesn’t know you’re here.”





“But how would he, anyway?”

“He might have been watching you for a while.  As I said, we don’t know how he chooses his victims.  Perhaps he watches people for days or weeks, planning his moment.

Cody shook his head.  “I dunno that he did that with me.  I hadn’t been on the scene for weeks.”  He met Colin’s eyes and looked away quickly.

“Yeah, but even if he didn’t track you, you’re the only one who knows what he looks like.  If he finds you, he’ll be driven by fear.  It’s a pity they couldn’t get you a police guard.”

“I couldn’t have one at work, could I?  Then they’d know … everything.”

“Yeah.  True ‘nuff.  I looked up the number you gave me.  But, the thing is, I’m not allowed to tell you who it is.”

“Let us tell you what we discovered first.”

Colin nodded.

“Cody remembered that the Kombi was rusted and old, that it was kitted out for camping and that it had St Joseph’s or St Michael’s something painted on the side.  So we looked up all the inner city St Joseph’s and St Michael’s.”

“Why inner city?”

“The suburban communities would be richer.  Here is where poor people are concentrated, right.  So this seemed a good place to start, at least,” Luigi said.

“We found four and we went to look at them.  The one a few blocks away is the closest and most likely,” Cody added.

“But …?” Colin asked when the pause stretched out.

“No Kombi.  No Toyota.”  Luigi admitted with reluctance.





He watched Colin go into the block of flats.  He didn’t look gay, but you could never tell, could you?   But if he was consorting with homos, then he might as well be one of them.

The Lord had made it quite clear what His will was. To lie with another Man was evil, and would send you to the torments of eternal flames. Father McAlister had been very clear on this. When Father McAlister had fucked him he would sometimes weep afterwards but more often he would beat him, accusing him of tempting him, of having a soul filled with evil. Afterwards they would pray, both of them on their knees together, for forgiveness and for strength to resist temptation. The watcher was proud that Father McAlister loved him but always felt bad that he had tempted him to break God’s law.

He remembered the first time he had killed.  He hadn’t done it personally, or at least, directly, as he had later, when gays had less shame.  He needed their shame to work on his victim, to make him see that his life was worthless and unnecessary.  He recalled the secret excitement he had enjoyed when he had heard that the other boy had killed himself. . The heady mix of lust and guilt. the knowledge of his power, of how he had finally done something which would please God. Some native caution had prevented him from telling Father McAlister of what he had done.  It seemed, somehow that, despite everything, Father McAlister would not have approved.  He knew that in his heart, and it made a second secret he had to keep from the world, from the only man who had loved him.




“But … if the owner of the Toyota works there and he is somehow connected then that’s him.”

“Yeah,” replied Colin.

“So does he work there?”

“I could go and ask.  But that would let him know we were onto him.”

“Do a search on the internet, then?”

“Have you done one?”

“Nah.  We don’t know his name.”


“We promise not to look.  Let me launch Google and then Cody and I will go through to the kitchen and make you some tea.”

Colin sat down at the computer and began to type.






Colin grunted.

“What?” asked Luigi.

“I’ve found him. Well, maybe.” He turned away from the computer to look directly at Cody.  “Now, look, mate,” he said seriously, ‘I’m going to ask you to look at him and see whether it is the bloke you saw, But the thing is, I’m putting my job at risk here so please, don’t let me down. I’m not supposed to let you have confidential info.

“But, we could have found it ourselves on the internet. I mean, could have looked up the Joseph’s website ourselves and we could have seen his pic on the web.”

“Except that his pic isn’t on their website is it?”

“We didn’t look.  But … prolly there isn’t even a website.”

“Exactly.  I did something different.  I looked where he worked. And the man who owns that Toyota works at St Joseph’s . And there’s a picture.  But you know how it is with driver’s licences. The pictures never seem to look like actual person”

“Richard always used to say that his driver’s licence photo made him look like a madam in a Hong Kong brothel.  Come to think of it, how would he know?”


“Oh, he was a guy I lived with who died a few years ago.  Before.”

“Before?  . . . Oh, I get it.  Well, let’s look at the picture.”





“Well, it’s a bit like him,” said Cody doubtfully.  “I can’t really be 100% sure.  It’s not a very good photo, is it?”

“Maybe his picture is on Facebook,” suggested Luigi.

“Do you think he would put his picture on Facebook?  Wouldn’t that make it too easy to find him?”

“How many of his victims have escaped?” asked Colin grimly.

“That’s a point.  All right.   Let’s look.”

Colin typed in the name into Google.   There were tens of thousands of results.

“We’re going to have to scroll through all these results to find him,” he said.  “That’s police work for you.   Mostly boring.   That’s why we wear out our shoes.”

“You going to walk up and down while searching for the results?”

“Metaphorically,” replied Colin.

“That’s a title for a novel:  The Metaphorical Policeman,” commented Cody.

“Let’s start looking,” replied Colin.  “I haven’t got all night.”

Pity, thought Luigi.







The name was a common one.   They went through six pages of photos before Cody suggested that the put in the name as well as “St Joseph’s”

“That’s him!” exclaimed Cody while they were scrolling through the results on the second page.  “I’m sure of it.”

A middle-aged man.  Slim.  Grey hair.  Quite ordinary-looking.  Smiling for the camera.

Colin pressed ‘print’.

“What do we do now?” asked Luigi.

You do nothing.  He’s dangerous.  Only the police should approach him. “

“He’s dangerous to you too,” pointed out Cody.

“Yeah.  But we’re trained for it.  And it’s our job.   Mates . . . this man is a killer.  He’s already killed how many?  Five?  Six?”

“There are five murders attributed to the Mount Macedon killer.”

“That we know of,” said Colin grimly.  “Serial killers—well, so our instructor said—usually escalate their actions.   Either by doing it more often or by being more vicious each time.  Or both.  You escaped,” he said, turning to Cody, “so he must be very frustrated.  He may even now be picking a new victim.”  He was silent for a moment or two.  Then he said, “I’m going to make this official now.  I’m going to put in a report that you saw him and reported it to me and that I did some work and found him.  And none of us is going to mention that you two know his name, OK?”  He stared at them waiting for them to answer.

“Will the ‘tecs do something now?”

“They’ll hafta.  This is good evidence and a good lead.  They’ll probly contact you to get more details.”

“What shall I say?”

“Always stick as close as possible to the truth.  It’s easiest that way.”  His smile was cynical.

“Right,” answered Cody, his own expression equally wry.  “So, in other words, I saw him and phoned you and none of this happened.”

Colin nodded.





“A beer?” asked Luigi.

“W-e-l-l  . . .  I should be getting home.  It’s late.”

“Just one?”


Luigi fetched three beers from the fridge.

By common consent, they didn’t mention the killer or how they met.

“How old’s your kid?” asked Luigi.

“Just under two years.  They grow up so quickly.”

“Yes.  They do.” Cody looked very sad as he said this, and Luigi remembered that he would be missing his own children.   What would happen to him and Cody?  Cody was a father, for fuck’s sake.  Philippa would fight Cody for custody.  Could he look after the other man’s children?  Would the courts allow it?  And then, even more disturbing and perplexing—would the pressure be so great that Cody would go back, not to his wife so much as to the life he had before?  The pretend-straight.  This fed into all his fears and the many “straight” guys who had fucked him and then moved on.  Guys who had considered themselves better than him merely because they were tops while he was a bottom, or because they were bi not gay.

Jerking his thoughts back to the present, he heard Cody say, “Yeah I have two.  One is three and the other just ten months.”

He could tell that Cody was also thinking about whether he would ever get to see his kids again.  Richard’s lawyers, thought Luigi to himself.  I must get Richard’s lawyers onto this.  He has a right to see his children.





“I haven’t spoken to her, since . . .  well, she’d be within her rights if she didn’t allow me to see them.”

Luigi was just about to speak but Colin forestalled him.

“Would you say that if you’d been unfaithful with a woman?” he asked.

“Well, I . . .  Yeah good point.  Maybe not.  I dunno. It’s just . . . I feel so guilty.”

“You can’t help what you are mate,” said Colin.  “Any more than I can help being straight.  I’m not saying it’s easy.  Or that you didn’t hurt her.  But that doesn’t mean you have to feel bad about being gay.  Or bi.  Or whatever.  Just that  . . . it’s hard enough being gay in this world . .  .”

“. . . It’s worse being bi!” Cody interrupted.

“Yeah, I s’pose.  But it is what it is.”

“Colin why are you so accepting?” asked Luigi.  “I mean, I don’t want to . . . well, Cody and I are grateful … but it’s just that it’s very unusual.”

“What?” asked Colin.  “Straights who accept you?”

Policemen who accept us,” replied Luigi gently.

“Your experiences have been so bad?”  Colin sounded sad.

“Yeah.”  Luigi didn’t bother to elaborate.

“I always wanted to be a policeman.  From when I was a little boy.  It seemed to me that I would make the world a better place.  And there was the uniform.  And the motorbike.  And the gun.  And the walkie-talkie. “  His grin was somewhat wry.






“But you’re one of the de Graves family.  You could’ve gone into politics.  Money, connections, influence.  A name.”

“I thought I’d have to make too many compromises in politics. As for connections . . . well, my uncle might have once been Premier of the state but he’s a Conservative.  In fact most of my family is associated with the Liberals. And I’m not. But mostly, I felt that in the police I’d be able to do more good.  And one day, maybe I can still go into politics.  Join the Greens.”  He grinned.  “That’ll shock the crusty old farts at the Christmas dinner parties at de Graves House!”

“You’ve been wonderful to us. You … helped.  I’ll never forget it.”  Cody’s voice trembled.

“Just part of the job!”  Colin was eager to disclaim any special care and concern.

“The detectives didn’t think so.  They despised us.  You could see it.  Barely veiled contempt.”  Luigi was bitter, angry.

Colin sighed.  “Yep.  There’s still a lot of homophobia in the police.   Well, times change.  And we in them.” He drained the rest of his beer.  “I have to go.  I’ll be in touch.”

“You’re sure you won’t have another?”

“Thanks, but no.  Now remember …”

“Yeah, we know.  We mustn’t go after him ourselves.  We don’t know his name.  You never came here.  And the Pope is Catholic.”

Colin shook his head.  “As long as you mean it!”

“We do,” they assured him.

As he left, Cody and Luigi shook hands with him again.





“Grandam, do you remember me mentioning Amantha Masterton?”

“Yes, darling, I do.  And before you ask, yes, I would love to meet him.”

“Oh yes, I remember you met him at St Kilda Beach,” said Eleanor.

“Well, I asked him round to visit me here, so if you’d like to meet him, you’ll have the chance in …” he looked at his watch “… half an hour.”

“Such an interesting occupation creating whole worlds out of nothing quite like God really though Canon Green would disapprove of my saying that or maybe he wouldn’t since he  is so broad-minded sometimes though I must say he was quite het up about something cruel the government did such a dear man. I always enjoyed Amantha’s novels, so insightful into the human condition and somehow he manages to quite get how a woman thinks rather clever really since he is a man and I must say that was quite a surprise to me, Jason dear when you told me.”

“Let me see if we have any wine in the fridge.  Or champagne.  And some biscuits.”  Eleanor ignored the other woman’s wandering thoughts.

Jason smiled at her.  “I’m sure we won’t blow away in dust or starve!”

“Yes, but these things must be done properly.  Amantha Masterton!  In my house.”

The two old ladies bustled off to prepare for the guest.  Jason slumped in the armchair and sighed.  He wondered how Luigi and Cody were getting on.  His thoughts drifted to Keith and Esmé.  Esmé didn’t seem to mind that Keith was fucking him and Luigi.  And Tom.  It was clear that she knew, from the comments she’d made.  But maybe she did care.  Maybe she was just making the best of the situation.  For the first time he wondered whether he could share Keith.  He was already sharing, of course, but if … if Keith took Brent’s place.  He stared at the fireplace without seeing it, his mind on all that had gone so horribly wrong in England.  He didn’t deserve happiness and yet, unexpectedly it had crept up on him.  Mostly.  Right now, he was sad, but it wasn’t the crushing mind-numbing sorrow he’d felt when he’d fled England.






He heard his grandmother come into the sitting room.

She looked at him, worry in her eyes, but as usual she spoke around what concerned her.

“Eleanor and I are such fans of Amantha Masterton. Her and yes I know it’s a he but I still feel that she is a she and I know it will all become clear when I meet him I’m getting into such a muddle like that time in France when your Grandfather had a funny turn on the Metro and I couldn’t think straight and forgot all my French which is ridiculous since I learnt it as a child from dear Mde Bertrand so kind I had quite forgotten her till this very instant and I forgot all my French too which was most awkward because I kept on calling for “docteur, docteur” but of course it’s médécin I went quite dilly with worry.”  She was looking at him now with great anxiety and he knew his grief was showing clearly on his face.  He answered her unuttered question.

“I was thinking about Brent, grandam.  I’ve made new friends here, far more than I thought I would.  And I’m very fond of them.  But …”

“Quite.  I used to go round the house looking for things which reminded me of your grandfather but it was silly I knew it was just that it all helped.  I had rather a row with Canon Green about it and the justice of God there’s some word for it which I forget—“

“—theodicy—“ interjected Jason.

“—well there you are exactly such a strange word like Theodore who was a friend when I was up at Oxford and come to think of it I’m sure he was queer but he was a very dear man.   Where was I?”

Jason wondered which of all these effusions she would fix on.  His lips quirked up a little.  As usual, his grandmother had improved his mood.  Her good-humoured babble and her underlying love and care warmed his heart.

She continued without waiting for his answer.  “Oh yes, quite so, theo-whatsit and Life which seems to me to be another word for God but Canon Green disagreed and he is so passionate about God’s Love and was quite discomforted by my mentioning Job which always seems to me to be a very bleak view of the world and of God so duplicitous and really one shouldn’t do good just because there is some reward on earth or in heaven so complicated but because you must.  In the end, you know, it was you and Amanda and Mark and my friends and Parker who helped me recover after your grandfather’s death.  And your friends will help you and it’s good you’ve made them.”  She smiled tentatively at him.





The doorbell rang.

“That’ll be Graeme,” said Jason.  “He’s a little early.”

“Then,” said his grandmother firmly, “he won’t mind if I go and brush my hair and powder my nose.”

Jason opened the door.

It was Keith and Esmé.  They were smiling and carrying a bottle of wine.

“G’day!  Bonjour!”  Keith’s French was strongly accented with ocker.

“You stars!” cried Jason, grinning from ear to ear.  They were just what he needed to lift his melancholy.  “Guess who’s going to be here!”

“Tony Abbott?  Father Christmas?  Colby Keller?”

“Why not all of them together?  Could be fun.  No. Graeme.”


“You know, the guy I met at the beach.  The one you were all jealous of.”

Esmé grinned.  “Keith?  Jealous?”

“Oh, him,” said Keith off hand, pretending indifference.

Jason ushered them inside.  “Yep.  Grandam and Eleanor are fans of Amantha Masterton.”

“What’s that got to do with it?” asked Esmé.

“He writes Amantha Masterton’s novels.””

“What?  Why didn’t you say?”  Esmé exclaimed. “They’re fantastic!”

“Didn’t I tell you?”

“No, I’m sure.  I would have remembered.”

“He also writes super gay stories too.  He writes under another pseudonym there.”

“What one?” asked Keith.

Jason told him.  “Endeavour Lambano.”

“Waow!” said Keith.  His stuff is sao hot.  And romantic.”

Jason and Esmé both turned to look at him.

“What?” Jason snorted.  “Oi’m a romantic.  Not ashymed of that.”

“You’re gorgeous,” said Esmé, smiling at him.

“The best,” said Jason, ruffling Jason’s hair.

Keith coloured.  “Youse two!” he mumbled.

Each of the other two took one of Keith’s hands and escorted him through to sitting-room.





“Grandam, you remember Keith?”  Keith tried to let go of their hands but neither Jason nor Esmé allowed it.

“Of course I do so kind to pick me up at the airport makes travelling so much better to be met and swept to one’s destination in congenial company and such a dear car reminded me so much of my own youth which in a way is a sad thing and maybe even dreary but I am having so much fun.  Did Jason tell you the news? We are to host Amantha Masterton so exciting I’ve been a fan for years just wait until I tell Parker.”

“Yes, I’d heard,” said Keith gamely, having given up the struggle to pull his hands out of Jason’s and Esmé’s.

“So sorry waffling on like that I do apologize we haven’t been introduced,” this to Esmé.  “I’m Lucasta Ellesmere.  And Jason is my grandson.”

“Oh, we’ve heard all about you,” said Esmé smiling.  “I’m Esmé Kovac.  It’s really pronounced Kovatch because it’s Yugoslav.”

“Oh, my dear, so interesting, my husband was ambassador in Belgrade for 3 years but you know I do find that Australia has so many people from somewhere else which makes everybody so interesting and different.”

Jason introduced Esmé to Eleanor who’d just come in.  As soon as he got the chance, he whispered into Eleanor’s ear, “Do you mind that Keith and Esmé have come?  I didn’t expect them.”

“Oh, no, not at all!  Your friends are always welcome here, my dear.”

“Well, then, do we have enough wine?  When you looked?  I could nip out quickly to the bottle store and buy some.”

“Well, I do think so.  In the pantry.  But they’re dusty.  They’ve been there a while.  I used to have so few parties.  It’s wonderful having these get-togethers.”

“Shall I open a bottle of red?” asked Jason.

“Yes, please do.”






When Graeme arrived 20 minutes later, the sitting room was already loud with chatter and laughter.

“My dear, so beautiful, and such warm people I always thought and I did love the climate having drinks on the terrace and listening to the servants talking so melodious.”

“I think my mother’s Italian is dialect,” said Esmé.  “I don’t know.”

“You should ask her,” said Lucasta.

“Oh … I …we don’t talk any more.”  Esmé’s dismissive comment was tinged with sorrow.

Jason brought Graeme over and introduced him.

“Graeme, my grandmother Lucasta Ellesmere, and my friend Esmé Kovac who are both fans of your writing.  Grandam, Ezz: may I present to you Graeme alias Amantha Masterton.”  Jason bowed like an impresario.

“So delighted to meet you Graeme I am a great fan of your stories so insightful and such fun.”

“You’ve enlivened many an unhappy hour,” said Esmé.  “Dreams of handsome princes and romantic castles and buxom beauties swept off their feet.  This ninny”—she gestured at Jason—“didn’t mention who you were when we met last time.”

Jason stuck his tongue out at her.  Graeme laughed.

“As I said to Jason, it’s a job.  I admit, I make what the inimitable Jane calls ‘a modest competence’ from dear Lord Balencourt’s amorous and pugilistic adventures.”

“Your swordfights are very realistic.”

“I did some genuine training for a while.  Just so’s I could get it right.”

“You have more fans over there,” observed Jason, gesturing to the other corner of the room where Keith and Eleanor were chatting.  “Let me introduce you.”






“Key, Eleanor—this is Graeme, alias Amantha Masterton and “—he gave Graeme a sly grin— “Endeavour Lambano.  Graeme, you know Keith, and Eleanor is my landlady and friend.”

“Honoured to meet the creator of Lord Balincourt,” exclaimed Eleanor, and Keith gave Graeme a huge smile and said, “Awesome!”

“Would you care for a glass of champagne, Graeme?”

“I’d love some.”

“I put your wine on the sideboard, Key,” said Jason.  “Looks rather nice.”

“I purloined it from The Lord Grey.  Tom won’t moind.”

“What do you write under your Endeavour Lambano pseudonym, Graeme?” asked Eleanor.

Graeme cast a desperate look at Jason, and said, “Um, I write …”

Jason cut across him.  “Scintillating hot gay novels.”

“Romantic, too,” observed Keith.

“So you’re at heart a romantic, Graeme?” asked Eleanor, placidly.

“Yes, I think so.  I believe in love.”

“Me too,” said Eleanor.  “And kindness.  They’re the most important things.”

“Yes,” said Keith.  “Exactly.”  They smiled at each other in perfect understanding.






Jason handed Eleanor and Graeme a glass of champagne and gave Keith a glass of red from the bottle he’d brought.

“Cheers!  Thank you for coming, Graeme.  It’s good to see you again.”

“You too, Jason.  And I’m glad to meet so many fans.  Of both my authorships!”

“We’re very pleased to have you here.  Did you have to come far?” asked Eleanor.

“Oh, no, I’m practically a neighbour.  Just 3 or 4 tram stops along.”

“Melbourne so civilised with trams and pavement cafés I approve so European,” said Lucasta, sipping her champagne.

“When I first came here it struck me as a southern European city with the plane trees and the boulevards and pavement cafés and everywhere Greeks and Italians and Lebanese.  I love it.”  Jason glanced at his grandmother, wondering if she got the subtext.

“And,” she said,” putting her hand on his arm, “you’ve been happy here.”

Oh.  Yes, she understood.

“Better than I would have been anywhere else.  Except perhaps Aubeterre.”

“Where?”  asked Esmé.

“Aubeterre.”  In the south of France.  South-ish.  Not too far from Bordeaux.  It where my former nanny lives.  She’s French.  But, although they’re very accepting there I don’t know that I’d’ve made friends as quickly as I have here.  And yeah, I think about Brent a lot and I miss him like stink but having you two helps me better than anything.”  On impulse he leaned over and kissed Esmé’s cheek and then Keith’s.  Esmé smelled nice of a scent he didn’t recognise and Keith smelled of Keith.  He started to get a fatty but was surprised when he realised that he wasn’t sure whether it was because of Keith or Esmé.  Or both.

Chapter 25(Episodes 481 to 500)       Chapter 27 (Episodes 521 to 540)

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