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By Sarah Hapgood

Bengo and Bardin had left the double mattress at the entrance to the lighthouse, so that the intense tropical sun could scorch out all the musty dampness. At sundown they dragged it into the back room of the building, which was still fully intact, and placed it on the rusty bed-frame. They then made it up with sheets and pillows, feeling as though they were back in their childhood digs.

“Now I know really why Julian wanted us to stay here”, said Bardin, once they were in bed. It was inky dark, with only a guttering candle for light, and the only sound was of the waves crashing against the rocks below “It was to cure me of all yearning for adventure!”

“Well all that rubbish about wanting to go back to the Big House to prove something was about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard ANYONE say”, said Bengo.

Bardin glowered at him sulkily from under the brim of his cap, which he still hadn’t taken off.

“Have you quite finished?” he said.

Bengo turned over as though saying goodnight. Bardin hung his cap on the rusty bed-post and blew out the candle. He turned over as though going to sleep as well, but was discomforted by an enormous boner that was growing on him, helped by having Bengo’s delectable bottom pressing against him. He turned over and kissed Bengo’s neck and shoulders.

“If you want me”, said Bengo “Just take me”.

In the morning they found a hamper of fruit and coconuts had been put outside the main door of the old lighthouse. Bengo said that Adam and Lonts must have brought it over. He then insisted on making some coffee. Bardin got rather nervous about Bengo fiddling about with the old portable gas stove, and wanted to hang around to closely supervise, but Bengo got exasperated with him and practically kicked him upstairs to the room above.

Whilst Bengo prepared breakfast Bardin sat in the upstairs room, and watched the sky through the glassless window high up in the wall. He thought back over the night’s intense lovemaking, the sheer animal pleasure of it, and once again cursed himself for never having initiated this phase of their relationship long ago, because he knew now that if he had it would have been very unlikely that Bengo would ever have left him.

It wasn’t as if Bengo wouldn’t have agreed to it, because Bengo would have jumped at it. He had always believed that as he and Bardin shared everything anyway, sex was simply another thing for them to share. But no, when they reached their teens and sex had made its appearance in their lives Bardin had ballsed it up. Which is not unfair of me to say, because it was exactly how he would have put it himself.

One night, after Bengo had started seeing Godle, Bardin had waited up for him to come home, pacing the floor like an anxious father. Bengo had finally got in at 2 a.m.

“What do you think you’re doing walking the streets at this time of the fucking night?” Bardin had roared.

“Godle was with me”, said Bengo “No one’s gonna pick on me with him there are they! Bardy …”

“Go to bed”, Bardin snapped “We have a very busy day tomorrow”.

“We’ve always got a very busy day tomorrow!” Bengo had sighed. He turned to get undressed and then paused, thoughtfully “Bardy, I love you”, he said, putting his hand on Bardin’s shoulder.

“I know”, said Bardin, not looking at him “I love you too. Now go to bed”.

Thrown him on the bed and ravished him, thought Bardin, now, that’s what I should have done. That would have cleared out Godle from our lives once and for all, and kept Bengo with me. Thrown him on bed, that’s what I should have done!

Bengo whistled up the stairs to alert him that breakfast was ready. Bardin came down to find him standing proudly by some chopped fruit and two mugs of coffee. Bardin patted his shoulder in recognition of this culinary achievement.

After they had eaten they stood outside the lighthouse door to take in the scene. The only Indigo-ites they could see were Tamaz and Toppy, who were playing with little wooden spades in one of the rock-pools.

“Look at Toppy”, Bardin laughed “He walks like a chorus-girl, swinging his hips about all the time!”

“He is a total faggot isn’t he!” said Bengo “Although he’s nuts about Tamaz so I’m not sure what that makes him really! I’m a total faggot too, I know that now. I used to think I would fancy women before I saw any of them, because I’d always quite fancied Finia, but not really. I like them, but not in that way, unlike you”.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Bardin.

“Well you’ve been with chorus-girls”, said Bengo.

“That doesn’t prove anything!” Bardin stamped back inside the lighthouse “I didn’t know what the hell I was all about in those days”.

“Bardy, I was only teasing you”, Bengo followed him, and gently gripped his shoulders “You’re so tense. Unwind a little”.

“It’s hardly surprising I’m tense when you start on at me like that!” said Bardin.

“It’s so funny really”, Bengo giggled “You get so worked up about Godle and even Hillyard, and yet I’m not even allowed to mention your past lovers”.

“That’s because there was nothing to it all that’s why”, said Bardin, now through gritted teeth “It was just sex, like masturbating into a doll”.

“There must have been more to it than that”, said Bengo, who was merely plain curious, not setting psychological traps for his friend. He really couldn’t imagine Bardin, not crochety, bossy, irascible Bardin, making tender advances towards a woman! “You must have had to talk to them, kiss them …”

“We’ve been through all this before”, said Bardin “This exact same conversation”.

“Have we?” Bengo asked.

“And I never kissed anyone before you, you know that”, said Bardin “I could never bring anyone to kiss my mouth”.

“That’s silly”, said Bengo.

“Silly or not, that’s the way it was”, said Bardin.

“You had sex with all those people without doing any kissing at all?” said Bengo.

“YES!” said Bardin, now very cross indeed “So you married a right weirdo, happy now?! At least you haven’t got to worry about every single past lover of mine being some great, grand passion, which seems to have been what all yours were. Every sodding single one of them! I don’t have past lovers kidnapping me and carting me off to the Bone-House do I!

“I’d feel really sorry for them if they did!” Bengo was now laughing uncontrollably, and had to clutch onto the edge of the beaten-up old table for support.

“Bengo!” Bardin shouted, and he had to haul Bengo up from the floor, and into the bedroom.

“It really annoys me sometimes, the relationship those two have”, Tamaz was currently saying “Bengo fawns all over Bardin like a little dog”.

“Oh I think it’s rather sweet, Freaky”, said Adam, working in the stone kitchen.

“No it’s not”, said Tamaz “Because it means Bardin expects that kind of treatment from everybody”.

“Maybe, but he doesn’t get it!” said Joby, who was sitting at the table, doing his perennial task of scraping vegetables.

“We would all have to rush around getting out the best tablecloth for Bardin”, said Tamaz.

“It never ceases to amuse me where your train of thought goes, Freaky”, said Adam “What have tablecloths to do with anything?”

“It’s the sort of thing Bengo would expect us to do in Bardin’s honour”, said Tamaz.

“That sounds more like Toppy”, said Joby, and he put on Toppy’s camp, slightly effeminate voice “What we really need is a good canteen of cutlery don’t you know!”

“I expect he’s doing it right now”, said Tamaz “Bengo I mean, fawning over Bardin”.

“Well I do hope so, old love”, said Adam “That’s why we sent them over there!”

“It’s when he says Bardy’s perfect I have to laugh”, said Joby “What a way to carry on! You don’t get me carrying on like that with Kieran”.

“No, unfortunately”, said Adam.

“Oh c’mon it’s not healthy is it?” said Joby “Then again, I don’t expect you to understand. You probably carry on like that with Julian when you’re alone together”.

“I most certainly do not!” said Adam “Julian doesn’t need any help from me or anyone in being persuaded that he’s perfect, he manages quite well by himself on that score!”

Rumble appeared in the doorway with his banjo, and announced that he and Farnol were going over to the old lighthouse to call in on their fellow clowns.

“I’m not sure they’re supposed to have visitors”, said Adam.

“They’re not in quarantine are they?” said Rumble “Anyway, there’s only so much time you can spend having sex and then you become all spent out”.

“Oh Rumble you are so lacking in romance!” said Adam.

Hoowie also invited himself along with Farnol and Rumble.

“I can’t imagine that’s going to go down well with Bardin”, Adam sighed.

“At least it means we get rid of him for the afternoon”, said Joby “They can put up with him instead”.

“We’re talking about Hoowie, Lo-Lo”, said Adam, as Lonts sidled into the room, in case Lonts thought they were talking about him.

“We really are very unkind about Hoowie”, Adam continued.

“With good reason to be!” said Joby “He’s a pain in the arse, even when he’s asleep!”

“There must be something you like about him”, said Adam.

“Can’t think of anything off the top of me head”, said Joby.

“But you live with him”, said Adam.

“Not out of bleedin’ choice!” said Joby “He sort of tagged along with us. No one else would put up with him”.

“He’s had quite a tragic life when one looks at it objectively”, said Adam “He was completely unloved and unwanted as a child”.

“I’m not surprised!” said Joby.

“But he could have turned out a lot worse”, said Adam “He could have turned out like Angel”.

“Or me”, said Tamaz “As I was”.

By some fluke the visiting-party hadn’t been seen approaching by Bardin from the beach. He had gone down there for a short walk in the forest whilst Bengo tidied away the remains of the breakfast, cleaned up the habitable parts of the lighthouse, prepared lunch, and generally did various housewifely tasks. He greeted the other clowns like a proud newly-wed having visitors for the first time. Bardin was less pleased to see them when he returned to the lighthouse.

“We thought you might like some guests by now”, said Farnol “After all, Bengo’s not exactly a source of stimulating intellectual conversation is he!”

“I don’t have Bengo around for that reason”, said Bardin.

“Ooh!” said Farnol “Wot a charming chauvinistic little fart he is!”

“Have you swept out the bedroom?” said Bardin to Bengo “Swept it out properly I mean”.

“In the corners and under the bed”, Farnol chipped in.

“Shut up”, said Bardin.

“Yes I’ve done it”, said Bengo, not at all taking offence at Bardin’s tone.

“You don’t sound like much of a honeymoon couple to me”, said Rumble “You sound exactly like you always were!”

“We’ve been deliriously happy”, said Bengo.

“Did you have to bring HIM with you?” said Bardin, pointing at Hoowie, who was hanging onto the door of the old lighthouse, and swinging it about in a way that insured the whole door wouldn’t be able to take the strain for much longer.

“Well we thought to ourselves what would be the most effective way of screwing up their honeymoon?” said Farnol “After all, we can’t have them being too happy, they might not want to come home! And then I thought oh I know, let’s take Hoowie along with us!

“Guaranteed to foul up even the most perfect of holidays”, said Rumble, sitting on the table, coiling his long thin legs up underneath him, and strumming a few chords on his banjo.

“You lot can have a cup of coffee and then you’re going”, said Bardin, who felt at a disadvantage because they were all dressed, and he was wearing only his shorts and his cap.

Bengo got very excited at the thought of using the gas-stove again, and instantly set about it.

“You’re gonna have to come home soon. All this high living’s putting it on a bit”, said Rumble, jokingly patting Bardin’s completely flat stomach.

“HOOWIE!” Bardin bellowed at Hoowie, who was still swinging on the door.

“Do you want us to go NOW?” said Rumble, suddenly serious for once.

“No it’s o.k”, Bardin sighed.

“It turned out alright in the end”, Farnol was telling some of the others when they got back to the clearing later that afternoon “We had a bit of a sing-song, with Rumble on the banjo. It wasn’t a bad way to spend the afternoon”.

“I bet Bardin was glad when you went though”, said Joby.

“Nah, I’m glad we went over there”, said Rumble “Bardin would turn into a monster if he was left with only Bengo to keep him in check”.

“Oh surely not!” said Adam, over-riding cries from Tamaz of “I told you that didn’t I!”

“He would”, said Rumble “He gets too exacting, he always did. Wants everything just so”.

“And Bengo’s too thick to contradict him”, said Tamaz “He lets him get away with it”.

“Bengo is also who makes Bardin a nicer human being”, said Adam “Without Bengo’s softening influence Bardin would be dreadfully uptight, and he would be the first one to admit it too”.

“That time after Bengo had run away and joined you lot”, said Rumble “Bardin was starting to develop some very obsessive habits. You know the sort of thing, the same things had to be done at the same time on the same day of the week, or the sky would probably fall in!”

“I know he’s a bit like that now”, said Farnol “But he was far worse then”.

“A psychologist would say …” Joby began.

“Oh lor!” said Adam.

“A psychologist would say”, Joby continued “That those obsessive habits were compensation for the major disruption in his life Bengo had caused by leaving. Bardin was trying to get everything else nailed down as it were”.

This sounded eminently plausible, but Adam didn’t want to gratify Joby’s cod-psychology attitude by admitting so.

“Hello Gorgeous”, said Hillyard, strolling across the clearing in a very hot and sweaty way, greeting Joby boisterously “You at the vegetables again? You just can’t leave ‘em alone can you!”

The sun had set over the sea, watched by Bardin outside the dilapidated main entrance of the old lighthouse. As the darkness slowly came on he felt more and more disturbed. Bengo came outside to see what was delaying him from coming to bed.

“There’s something in the sea”, said Bardin.

“Of course there is”, said Bengo “There are loads of things in the sea!”

“Yes, but I think there’s something else in there”, said Bardin “Watching us”.

Bengo gave a tut of annoyance and went back into the lighthouse.

“Bengo!” Bardin cried, but Bengo had taken the lit candle from the table and gone into the bedroom at the back, plunging Bardin’s immediate surroundings into darkness. Bardin went after him in annoyance. Inside the bedroom he found that Bengo had put the candle on the old tin trunk by the bed, but had disappeared. Suddenly Bengo emerged from behind the door and plucked Bardin’s cap off his head.

“You’ll go bald if you keep wearing a cap”, he said.

“Well if I’m wearing a cap it won’t matter will it!” said Bardin.

“You are so tense, Bardy”, said Bengo, now sliding Bengo’s dressing-gown from his shoulders “If you don’t lighten up I shall have to put you across my knee!”

“Oh no you won’t”, Bardin wrestled him onto the bed and managed to pull off Bengo’s shorts. He got him over his lap and soundly smacked Bengo’s buttocks until they were crimson. Bengo yelped consistently under the onslaught, but loved it.

They eventually went to sleep, Bardin in his undershorts, Bengo in his long singlets. Bardin woke again a couple of hours later, unnerved y the almost total dense blackness around them. Bardin wished they had kept the candle lit.

“Bengo, wake up”, he hissed at his partner “I can hear something outside”.

“Yes, it’s the sea”, said Bengo. He was deliciously tired and comfortable after a day of being at Bardin’s beck and call, and was in no mood for evil intruders, who would just spoil the atmosphere.

“There’s something slithering about on the rocks, listen!” said Bardin.

Bengo looked at him in the gloom with total frustration. He scrambled to the end of the bed, climbed over the rail, and groped in the darkness towards the door.

“Bengo!” said Bardin, scrambling after him “What the fuck are you doing? Get back here!”

“I’m going out there to prove to you there is nothing there”, said Bengo.

The little clown had courage, but it was entirely of the act now think later kind. Bengo had got halfway across the kitchen when he saw something large and very dark through the gap in the main door of the lighthouse, which didn’t shut properly. He gave a squeal of terror and put his hands to his mouth.

“Didn’t I tell you!” said Bardin. He yanked him back by his singlet towards the bedroom and slammed the door, putting a chair under the handle for good measure.

“B-Bardy”, Bengo gulped.

“Yes, quite!” said Bardin “There’s a sea-monster out there! It’s got up onto the rocks. And you were gonna walk out to it!”

“I-I thought you were imagining things”, said Bengo, looking rather pathetic with his little anxious face and his singlet barely covering his warmed behind.

“I do NOT imagine things, you do!” said Bardin.

“I was gonna try and reassure you”, Bengo sobbed.

“We have to get out of here somehow”, said Bardin “And when we get to safety I’m gonna beat you again!”

There was a back door out of the lighthouse, which led to some old iron runnels fixed onto the rocks, which must have once been used for hauling up heavy supplies from the beach. The clowns left the lighthouse, leaving all their things behind, except for Bardin’s cap which he had snatched up on the way out, and Bengo’s shorts, although he didn’t stop to put them on. They skidded down the old supply-track to the beach, without pausing once, and perhaps because of their clown’s acrobatic ability, managed to get down to the sand without causing themselves any injury. Then they sprinted along the beach to the clearing, and the sanctuary of the sloop.

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