Pascal's Boys...excerpt

Tom brewed fresh coffee, while listening out for footsteps descending the stairs. They came at last and he poured the hot dark liquid into two mugs, adding cream and sugar to one and leaving the other black. He looked up as Ian, doctor and family friend, entered the kitchen, waiting until he’d sat down before asking the usual question, “how is he this morning?” The reply was not what he wanted to hear.

  “He’s getting weaker,” Ian put his bag on the kitchen table, “I don’t think it will be long now, Tom, a week or two, a month if he’s lucky, not much more than that. It’s a miracle that he’s kept going as long as he has. He has the heart of a lion and a will to match.” He touched a kind hand to Tom’s stricken face, “let me arrange for a Macmillan Nurse to come in and help you care for him? You look tired. You need a break. These past months have been hard for you.”

  “No,” Tom shook his head, “I’ll care for him. Adam helps and now he’s finished classes for the summer I’ll at least be able to spend a little more time at the garden centre, that’s all the break I need.”

  “How are the renovations progressing?” Ian sat down and picked up the mug of creamy coffee.

  “Slowly, they’re behind schedule, which is why I’ll be glad to get over there more often to chivvy the workmen along. I was hoping that Pascal would…” he picked up a spoon, stirring his coffee, concentrating on the dark whirlpool it made in the liquid.

  “He’s excited about the expansion, Tom, he was talking about it this morning and bragging about what a fine place it’s going to be. He can see it all in his mind’s eye. It’s enough for him. It gives him great pleasure to know that you love the place as much as he does and that you’ll keep it going in his name.”

  “Did he show you the plans again?”

  “He did indeed, I got the usual guided tour by index finger. It’s a wonder they aren’t worn out.” Ian sipped at his coffee and then asked, “where is Adam by the way, don’t say he’s still in bed?”

  “No, he’s gone to help some friends clear their student flat and then he’s giving them a lift home.”
  “Pascal finally relented and gave him his car keys back then.”

 Tom nodded, “he’s promised us faithfully that he’ll to drive more carefully in future.”

  “Pascal’s death will hit Adam hard. I don’t think he’s really accepted how ill he is.”

  “I’ll look after him.”

  “It’s a shame he didn’t stick it out in London. It would have helped him to be more independent and grow up a bit.”

  “We encouraged him to stay, to give it a chance, but he couldn’t cope. He hated the university and he hated the speed of the city. He felt lost there; he just wanted to come home. The world and its wonders aren’t for everyone, Ian. This is where he’s happy. He’s enjoying his course at the local university, and as for growing up he’ll do it in his own time. We all mature at different rates.”

  “I suppose so. He’s only got another year left hasn’t he, what does he plan to do when he’s finished?”

  “He hasn’t thought that far ahead. You know Adam. He lives in the moment. He wanted to study literature, so he’s studying literature. Some days he wants to be a poet and others a gardener, like Pascal and I, and sometimes,” Tom gave a smile that lit up his solemn face, “all he wants to do is lie on the grass and watch the clouds shift and change while philosophising about what lies beyond them.”

  “He’s a dreamer and you indulge him. In fact you spoil him, just like Pascal has always indulged and spoiled him.”

  “Pascal has always known when to stop indulging, and so do I, so stop your nagging.”

  “If you say so.” Ian grinned and patted Tom’s shoulder.  “Will you move back into the house, after Pascal’s death?”

  “Perhaps, if Adam wants me to.”

  “Pascal has divided his estate equally between the two of you, it will be as much your property as his.”

  “This is Adam’s home, his safe place. I won’t ever violate that. If he wants me to share it, he will ask me.”

  “It was your safe place too, Tom, don’t forget that. Does Pascal know that things have recently cooled between you and Adam?”

  “He’s noticed, but he isn’t worried, and neither am I.” Tom’s attractive smile made another appearance, “I love Adam and I believe he loves me. He’s just not ready to make a full commitment yet. He’s enjoying discovering his physical self. I did the same at his age, and I bet you did too.”

  “True, though in my day it was much more difficult to discover your physical self, with anyone, let alone someone of the same sex. Being gay was an arrestable offence.”

  “Things have moved on, thank God, though a few steps further wouldn’t hurt.”

Ian nodded an acknowledgement. Sipping his coffee he gazed through the kitchen window, catching the scent of jasmine and roses, listening to the drone of bees and the occasional high-pitched scream of a swift on the wing. Summer was in youthful bloom, full of heat and promise. The promise was false, autumn would come, and then, inevitably, winter. Sadly, sometimes winter came hard on the heels of summer without the grace of autumn. Summer had to be enjoyed for all it was worth. He glanced at Tom, feeling a surge of affection. He had grown into a good man, a little too serious perhaps, but kind and hardworking. “It must be getting on for eighteen years, Tom, since you came to live with Pascal?”

Tom nodded, “eighteen years in September.”


COPYRIGHT Fabian Black  2010