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By Sarah Hapgood

Two days later they reached Blossom Harbour, the last stop before Woll's estate loomed in sight. The journey in the meantime had been mercifully short on event. Lonts had made a point of going into the saloon to see Toppy the moment he woke up, and reassuring him that all was well, and they would soon be at Woll's, and he would be in Lillijana's arms. As far as the clowns could see Toppy was maddeningly ungrateful for this reassurance, and remained as glum and solemn as ever.

Blossom Harbour was a town at the very threshold of what promised to be a long and glittering existence. It had been a thriving trading-post for some time, but until recently had been a single-sex colony. Women had been strongly encouraged to go there, with the added incentive that there were several dozen men to every female. This should have been a recipe for paradise (from a woman's point of view anyway), but sadly this wasn't turning out to be the case. the women that did go there were usually ones who had become thoroughly disenchanted with the men in their own part of the world, and were expecting the men of Blossom Harbour to be almost a separate breed. Within days these women were disillusioned once more, and reduced to huddling in groups, complaining that men didn't really like women at all, and merely saw them as an appendage, a necessary evil. In return the men, who had until now laboured under the delusion that these women had come here "gasping for it", were reduced to muttering that the female sex didn't know how to enjoy themselves at all.

On their first night at Blossom Harbour, the Indigo-ites secured an engagement at the extremely rumbustious Black Bat Inn, situated on the waterfront. Kieran though couldn't perform his usual routine has he had been summoned to supper with the local Bishop. Adam and Julian also missed the show, in order to go and see a chamber music concert at the town hall. This wasn't the liveliest of affairs, and at the interval they declined to go back in for the second half. As did most of the audience. Everyone it seemed preferred the free champagne on offer in the foyer.

"I'm standing here with nothing to put in my hands", said Adam "Am I the only one in town who's a reformed alcoholic?!"

"Looks that way doesn't it?" said Julian "Stop distressing yourself. I'll badger one of the stewards for an orange juice".

This he managed to do, and Adam slowly began to relax. Nearby were a group of young women, all standing in a disconsolate group, and all wearing black dresses.

"I do wish women wouldn't wear black", said Julian "They're fed this totally erroneous belief that it's flattering, and yet it actually suits very few of them".

"Yes, they do look like a bunch of mourners at a funeral", said Adam "I prefer to see ladies in bright colours myself. I think it makes them look much more sassy. But then I suppose it's not me they're trying to impress!"

"No wonder the men round here aren't going mad with uncontrollable desire", said Julian "If a woman was walk in now wearing a bright red dress, she'd have every man slavering at the mouth".

"Bette Davis in 'Jezebel'!" said Adam "I did love that film. When she arrives at the ball wearing a scarlet frock, and shocks everyone. Another role that would be perfect for Tamaz!"

"With Joby as Henry Fonda I presume!" said Julian "We'd better stop looking over there, we're giving them the wrong idea. Can't you flash your nipple-rings or something, to put them wise?!"

Within a few minutes one of the girls came over to collect another couple of glasses of champagne.

"Are there no men here you like?" Adam asked, daringly.

"Well we think the steward's sort of cute", said the black-clad girl, tipsily "But he's only 18. And what can you do with an 18-year-old steward?"

"Would you like me to answer that?!" said Julian.

"Can I ask ..." said the girl "Are you fellas gay?"

"Even if we weren't, we'd still be far too old for you", said Adam.

The girl walked back to her friends, mouthing the word "gay".

"It says something when we're the hottest property here!" said Adam.

"Watch out, they've let the riff-raff in", said Julian.

Ransey came towards them, looking distinctly out of place in his casual wear. He wore a long sleeveless vest over his shorts. His hair had got so long that it now reached to just below his shoulders, and he wore it back in a pony-tail. He was a marked contrast to the rest of the gathering.

"How's the show going?" said Adam, when he got near them.

"They've just finished", said Ransey "I thought I'd better come on ahead and warn you. They're all heading this way, and they're all completely rat-arsed!"

"I thought they were supposed to be working", said Adam "Not that it ever seems to make the slightest bit of difference!"

"The punters in the 'Black Bat' enjoyed it all so much they kept passing free drinks up onto the stage", said Ransey "It must have been the sight of Tamaz doing a lot of gratuitous running around in his underwear, as usual".

"Nobody attacked Joby this evening did they?" said Adam.

"No, he got out unscathed", said Ransey.

"Adam!" Lonts bellowed from the doorway "We've done the show! We were a huge success!"

He came bounding over to them like a friendly labrador. The others spilled in behind him, and most of them headed for the free champagne laid out on the trestle tables.

"It was brilliant", Bardin enthused "As good as the beer-hall at Triga. We were all touched by genius this evening".

"Touched by copious amounts of alcohol more like", said Julian.

"Toppy certainly had a stroke of genius at the end of the 'Fat Constable' piece", said Hillyard "You know the bit when I have to stand there with my flies open?"

"Acting yourself entirely", said Julian.

"Well he ..." Hillyard broke off to laugh drunkenly.

"In your own time", said Julian.

"He shoved a beer bottle in my flies", said Hillyard "But it was full, and the beer came frothing out all over the place. It looked like ..."

"We can imagine what it looked like", said Adam.

"No doubt your new fans have enjoyed it immensely", said Julian "And who is currently guarding my bath-tub, may I ask?"

"Oh don't sweat, Julian", Hillyard boomed "It's tied onto the back of the cart outside. Anyway, who'd want to nick your bath-tub?"

"People will steal anything these days", said Julian.

"At Woll's place you'll be spoilt for choic for bath-tubs", said Hillyard.

"That is irrelevant", said Julian "I've become rather attached to that one!"

"Ransey was the real star of the show", said Bardin, having gulped down two glasses of champagne in rapid succession.

"Ransey?" said Adam "I didn't realise you'd written him into it?"

"It was unscripted", said Bardin "But sheer brilliance. It was at the end when I was doing my serenading Finia bit. Well Tamaz appeared behind me on stage, and ripped his corset off! He was standing there with his tits on display!"

"Oh he was was he?!" said Julian, glaring at Tamaz, who was wiping his mouth with the end of his fur-stole "He ripped his corset off in front of a male-only audience?!"

"Yeah, but Ransey charged onto the stage and carried him off", said Bardin "He didn't say a word, he just did it. The punters all thought it was part of the act. They loved it".

"You should've explained to them he was Freaky's father", said Adam "They'd have loved it even more".

"Hadn't we all better go and round up Tinker Belle?" said Julian, miffed at having Ransey's paternal qualities extolled "Come along Freaky, before you lose your clothes again!"

"Tamaz is a brilliant revue sweetheart", said Bardin, enthusiastically, trailing out of the building with Adam and Finia "The landlord said he's better than having a real woman on the stage".

"Of course he is", Finia snapped "He's a man in a woman's body, largely. Perfect combination for most men!"

"Oh Finia, that's not like you", said Adam "Take no notice of Julian. You know you occupy a very special place in his heart".

"That's not the problem", said Finia "I just get fed up with hearing about Tamaz's sex appeal".

"But you have sex appeal too", said Adam "Just a different kind that's all. You're cool, and chic and classy, and Tamaz is a brazen little trollop!"

"He's also half-female", said Finia, sulkily "In ways I can never be. He was showing me his stretch-marks earlier, on his stomach".

"How delightful", said Adam, in such a tone that Finia couldn't help but smile.

"That brat is nothing but a torment", said Mieps, angrily.

"Certainly to you", said Adam.

"He needs whipping", said Mieps.

"Very possibly", Adam sighed.

Kieran had had a gloomy and depressing evening. This was disappointing, as the Blossom Harbour bishop was one of the better ones in his church, being a lover of life and humanity, although Kieran suspected he was a bit too interested in the collection plate at times. Nonetheless Kyle had nothing but disquieting news for him on this occasion, namely that he suspected some of the higher echelons of the Church of wanting to oust Kieran as their head. Kieran had been round this block before with Father Dalman, and he was tired of it.

"They basically want me to be a cold, aloof pontiff", he said "They want me to live in an ivory tower, surrounded by guards, and only be wheeled out on ceremonial occasions. Well I'm not having it! I abdicated the Presidency to get away from all that".

"You're too much of a wild card for them", said Kyle, giving a wry grin "You're not supposed to have spiritual thoughts or go walkabout".

"Do you know something?" said Kieran "I've never regretted legalising religion, it was necessary, but sometimes I do regret establishing a church. It's been nothing but a bloody headache for me. Perhaps I should dissociate meself from it. I don't fit in with organised religion anymore".

"And where would that leave the rest of us, your loyal supporters?" said Kyle "We count on you to keep the others under control. If they get too much power, it will be horrendous".

"I know", Kieran sighed "I just don't know where we go from here".

He left Kyle's private room soon after, and walked out through the little chapel, which was ablaze with candles. Adam and Joby were sitting at the very back of it. Joby was asleep, with his head against Adam's shoulder. Adam nudged him when Kieran hove into view, and Joby looked up blearily, at a loss as to where he was.

"In church", said Adam, in answer to his question.

"Eh?" said Joby "What are we doing here?"

"Meeting Patsy", said Adam.

"Figures", Joby groaned, noticing Kieran "Can we go home now?"

"They want to kick me out", said Kieran, sorrowfully "Me own church want to kick me out".

"Not all of them, surely?" said Adam.

"Enough to cause a lot of trouble", said Kieran "Some of them hate me. As far as they're concerned I'm in the way ... I'm afraid of what they might do".

"We'll get you to Woll's place", said Adam "You'll be safe there. Ransey will be able to keep an eye on you there better than anywhere".

"What are you saying?" Joby exclaimed "These are priests we're talking about. Priests! Not a bunch of hoodlums!"

"Priests can be as ruthless as gangsters anyday when it comes to power", said Kieran, sadly "Look at His Holiness the Pope John Paul The First".

"But you seem to be implying ..." Joby trailed off in disbelief.

"Ransey will take care of him", said Adam, firmly.

"But they owe everything to him!" Joby protested.

"And that just gives them another reason for hating me", said Kieran.

"I don't understand", said Joby, angrily "I don't understand!"

Ransey was pacing around outside the front of the chapel. A short distance away, on the main road back into town, the others were standing by the hired horse and cart. Except Tamaz, who had followed Ransey up to the main steps. He stood there watching Ransey, the skirts of his petticoat billowing in the summer breeze.

"What are you staring at?" Ransey paused and sighed.

"You don't mind me looking at you, do you?" said Tamaz.

"Go and get in the cart", said Ransey "We'll be leaving soon".

Tamaz moved up close to him and touched his hair gently.

"We have the same hair colour", he said.

"Yours has red glints in it", said Ransey, distractedly.

"And we have the same mouth", said Tamaz.

"Your lips are fuller", said Ransey.

"I am of your flesh", said Tamaz.

"I know", said Ransey "And it doesn't bother me anymore. It was entirely my own fault that it ever did. Sometimes I feel like Joby. I wish I had known years ago what I know now. I wouldn't have hid from everything for so long".

"You would have rescued me from the H.Q?" said Tamaz.

"I'm never going to win Father Of The Year Award, Tamaz", Ransey sighed "I'd best leave it to Julian. He has more warmth in him than I do".

"You can both have the job", said Tamaz, blithely.

"That so?" Ransey gave a short laugh.

"Tell me truthfully", said Tamaz "I've been wondering about it. You didn't want to leave me behind at the tin-shack with the old snake did you?"

"No I didn't", said Ransey "Not for a moment. I know he tries to intimidate you, but don't let him. It's only because you have what he wants".

"He still thinks he's going to get it", Tamaz pouted "He said to me earlier this evening that when we get together, him and me, 'when' mark you not 'if', the first thing he's going to do is pull my drawers down and beat me with a birch twig! I suppose you approve of that?!"

"That's not going to happen", said Ransey "Kieran wouldn't let it happen for a start. Mieps can fantasize as much as he wants. At least whilst he's fantasizing he's not actually doing. He's not going to take you away from us".

Adam, Kieran and Joby walked solemnly out of the chapel, and everyone proceeded to pile into the cart, with Hillyard driving. There was very little room, and an awful lot of doubling-up went on. Tamaz went to sit on Adam's lap, but found his skirts getting entangled amongst the forest of legs.

"Why don't you simply take it off?" said Adam, as Tamaz bundled it around his knees.

"I can't do that!" said Tamaz "I'd have to ride hom in my drawers!"

"Why the sudden attack of modesty?" said Julian.

"Must be my presence", said Mieps, smugly.

"I wish you'd leave him alone", said Joby "I'm sick of you keep getting at him. He's only a kid".

"Humph", said Mieps "Ghoomer brats are never simply 'only a kid'".

"Maybe", said Ransey "But remember this and forget it at your peril, Tamaz is half-human!"

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