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Hillyard and Ransey let Jonner in through the yard-doors with difficulty. They had opened one a crack to let him through, and then had to somehow get his bicycle through as well, which was laden down with more provisions for them. He said he had had no trouble from the FFFs, because he carried a small revolver with him which had made them keep their distance. In any case, he said, he was "impervious to fear". Mainly because he'd had a substantial cannabis breakfast beforehand!
"Jonner, the hero of the resistance!" said Julian, sarcastically.
"Oh shut up, Jules", said Adam.
Jonner was such an innocuous little man really. Slightly goofy of appearance, distracted of manner, and very wispy of voice, and yet his presence could all too often feel like putting a fox in a chicken-run. Where the Indigo-ites were concerned this was solely because he fancied Adam, so this achieved the dual feat of upsetting both Lonts and Julian in a spectacular fashion. Today, he also seemed to have upset Ransey, who was pacing about the kitchen with his hands in his pockets like a man with a burning problem on his mind. Only Hillyard, who was unpacking the provisions which Jonner had brought up with him, seemed unconcerned.
"You must stay to breakfast now you'd here, old love", said Adam to Jonner "Lo-Lo, show Jonner through to the dining-room".
"Through here", said Lonts, fiercely.
As soon as Jonner had left the room, Ransey erupted into a tirade.
"This has made a laughing-stock of us all!" he said, angrily "We cower in here like a bunch of fairies ..."
"We are a bunch of fairies", Adam giggled.
"Humiliated in the eyes of the world", Ransey continued.
"What nonsense", said Adam.
"And a doped-up art-fart like him just calmly walks through the blockade!" said Ransey.
"Cycled through it actually", said Adam.
"You said to me last night that you realised they weren't up to much", said Hillyard "So why this is coming as any surprise to you I don't know".
"Oh do stop looking so vicious, Jules", said Adam "And that applies to you too, Ransey. We are going to go into breakfast and act like civilised human beings, just for a change".
Jonner tried to bring them news from town over breakfast, but he was rapidly in danger of falling asleep. He spoke even more languidly than normal, constantly stopping to run his fingers through his tangled mop of hair. The biggest news seemed to be that Hawkefish was desperate to get the Indigo Players to appear at the Festival, and had beseeched Jonner to appeal to Bardin's sense of professionalism to get them to change their minds.
This put Bardin into a bad mood. After breakfast, he went into the kitchen-garden and began to strip the gooseberry bushes aggressively. On the stone bench by the wall, Bengo, Lonts and Tamaz sat in a row watching him. This only seemed to remind him of his dissatisfaction. Bardin had entertained an idea for some time now that when they finally found their resting-place, be it Woll's or a remote spot down-river, he would like to build his own boat. Nothing fancy, more a sort of glorified raft with a sail, like a fishing dhow. And then he would take it off on short fishing-trips, with Bengo, Tamaz and Lonts as his crew, plus with Toppy along perhaps to do the cooking. He didn't want reminding of the stage. For most of his life he couldn't have imagined living without it, but increasingly he began to see it as a symbol of how regimented and restricted his life had been. Everything had gone into the stage, every thought, every deed. Life seemed extravagent and blissful now that he didn't have to do that.
"Of course we didn't have to cower in here", Tamaz was saying, disdainfully "If I'd been allowed to go out there ..."
"You're to stay in here!" Bardin barked "You don't go out there until they've gone, do you hear me?"
Tamaz was taken aback by the ferocity of Bardin's tone. Up until now he'd always felt he rather had Bardin on a string, but now he was made to realise how formidable he could be. For the first time he realised that Bardin was quite capable of punishing him if he disobeyed, as effectively as any of the older ones could. He began to knuckle his eyes.
"Don't cry, Tamaz", Lonts implored.
"Take no notice", said Bengo "Bardin gets carried away. He's used to speaking to chorus-girls, that's the problem!"
"I'm not a fucking chorus-girl!" said Tamaz "And no one's allowed to speak to me like that, except Joby".
Bardin gave a placatory chuckle and kissed the top of Tamaz's head.
"Now's a good time to tell you of my boat-building plans", he said.
Ransey, who had been in an incurably pensive mood, had gone to the iron grille in the yard-doors to look at their captors, and had been greeted by the joyous sight of the FFF's packing up to leave.
"They won't want to miss the Festival", said Jonner, who now had a thumping headache "Not when it's got real women in it".
"Thank God we're no competition for them!" said Ransey.
Julian, Adam, Kieran and Joby had gone up onto the battlements to witness the mass exodus for themselves.
"I'd be even more reassured if they left Toondor Lanpin completely", Adam sighed "But I suppose we have to wait until the Festival is over for that".
"And in the meantime we're going to go down there and keep an eye on them", said Julian.
"Oh Jules, you're so mercurial", said Adam "A typical Gemini. Yesterday, it was stay in here and do nothing, and now today it's go down there and be in the thick of them!"
"There is method in my madness really", said Julian "As you will eventually see. I want the Indigo Players to give a farewell performance. We hid in here whilst we had to, but we're going to see the wankers off in style".
"Well that should please Hawkefish anyway", said Adam.
"I notice we didn't get asked first", said Joby, sourly.
"What objection do you have then?" said Julian.
"I'm not doing it", said Joby "I've said all along I'm not performing 'Love In The Laundry' in Toondor Lanpin, and I mean it. Mieps can take my place".
"Oh Joby, no!" said Adam "That wouldn't work anywhere near as well. Mieps is too dour, he doesn't have your stage charisma, and I can't believe Freaky would perform it with him nearly as well as he does with you. Everyone agrees you have terrific chemistry together. You really must get over this little phobia you have".
Adam led him back down the steep narrow steps. Julian looked suspiciously at Kieran, who had remained silent throughout this conversation.
"Have you rationed yourself to a few words a day?" said Julian, sharply "I've never known an Irishman be so silent!"
Kieran stared back at him, his blue eyes quizzical as though he'd never met him before and was mildly curious about him. Without speaking he suddenly flung his arms round him and hugged him. Julian couldn't have looked more askance if Kieran had pulled a knife on him. Kieran finished his unexpected hug and went down the steps.
The following day was to be the start of the Festival. Jonner had gone back to town and informed Hawkefish that the Indigo Players could do a late afternoon spot. Joby went into the dormitory to lace Tamaz into his stage petticoat and corset. As he did so he couldn't help thinking of something Bardin had said recently. "I can never make Tamaz out", he had said "One minute you can slap his arse and treat him as one of the lads, the next you have to kiss his hand and pretend he's a duchess or something!" "He's an hermaphrodite", Joby had replied. He had said it simply because it was so simple to him. Tamaz was one body containing two extremes. One half of him wanted to be a ruthless hunter, the other wanted to be a fairy princess. Many times he was capable of the unique feat of being both at the same time!
Joby bent to kiss his shoulders. He knew that Tamaz would react one of two ways. He'd either throw his arms round him and kiss him back, or he'd haughtily demand to be handed his fur stole. He chose the first option, trying to hoist his legs around Joby's waist, hampered as he was by the long skirts of his petticoat.
"We're all waiting!" said Toppy, from the doorway.
"Alright!" Joby snapped back.
"Little twerp", said Tamaz, after Toppy had gone again "I wish we could do something about him".
"He wouldn't be worth your while", said Joby, arranging the fur stole over Tamaz's shoulders "I doubt he'd be up to much".
"I wasn't thinking of me!" Tamaz exclaimed, and gave a mock shudder "But something needs to be done about him. If he gets much more repressed he won't be able to move his facial muscles when he speaks!"
Julian was having no trouble operating his.
"I said we were to depart at 3 o'clock sharp", he said, when they emerged into the courtyard where the hay-cart was waiting "I don't expect us to have to wait whilst you get dressed!"
They slowly wound their way down the mountain. Julian sat on the box with Hillyard, so that he could smoke without risk of setting fire to anything. The site of the FFF's bivouac was a mess, with bottles, cartons and tins strewn everywhere.
"Somehow it seems entirely in character", said Julian.
The Festival had been going a few hours by the time they arrived. The Toondories were very pleased to see Kieran and his gang, and made no bones about showing it. they had only heard about their 24-hour siege after it had actually finished. Jonner had only found out himself by going out onto the marshes to do some sketching and seeing the FFFs camped there. The FFFs were still in town, but had actually been refused service in some places, which was quite a reaction from the normally laid-back Toondories. Plus the Constable had made it clear that he was looking for a way of confiscating their weapons, in the hope that the FFFs would realise none of it was worth the trouble and go back to Krindei.
Tamaz enjoyed all the attention and swanned towards the main tent like a film star. He was annoyed though to find his portrait in the main foyer. This was the second nude study Adam had done of him, the one of him on his own. Adam had donated it to the local gallery, who had decided to use it as part of the Festival series on Toondor Lanpin and its residents.
"I gave it to them so it's theirs, and so they can do what they like with it", Adam protested "I would have given them the one of you and Mieps, but Mieps said he didn't want to be publicly exhibited. I had to respect his wishes".
"And what about MY wishes?" said Tamaz, imperiously.
"Oh for heaven's sake!" said Adam "I am not going to listen to you in on eo fyour ridiculously puritan moods. This is from the little monster who walks around topless and enjoys exposing himself!"
"Freaky!" Julian bellowed "Get round the back, or you'll get a hiding BEFORE you go on stage!"
Tamaz gave an indignant hiss but joined his fellow performers.
The Indigo Players' routines went down very well, with 'Love In The Laundry' being left to the end. Joby joked that this would enable him to make a quick getaway if he had to! This didn't prove necessary, and he twirled Tamaz round with delight when they got offstage. The only Indigo-ites not performing at all were Julian, Adam, Ransey and Mieps, who all sat in the audience smoking hash.
Backstage Bardin praised Tamaz to the hilt, but Tamaz was astute enough to know he was doing this more to get at Bengo than anything else. Bengo had nearly messed up the beginning of 'Love In The Laundry' by not being in the crucial right place at the right time. Predictably, Bardin had been furious and had come close to drowning him when he had to push him into the wash-tub.
"Well it makes up for all the times when you've shamelessly ad-libbed!" said Bengo, furiously "And left me not knowing what the hell to do next!"
Tamaz was distracted by the antics in the nearest bar-area. Some of the FFF had migrated into there and were intent on making things as unpleasent for everyone else as they could. Matters weren't helped by the fact that all that was left of the lunch menu by now was some sardines swimming in grease. So they drank even more to compensate (not that they needed much of an excuse really). By now they were becoming a crashing bore to everyone else. One got on a table to give a speech, but far worse was one of his friends who insisted on trying to get the attention of one of the local prostitutes by grabbing roughly at her hair.
"Sex, that's all women are good for!" he cried "That and reproducing!"
A chord struck in Tamaz's mind like a violin string snapping. He recalled the grim, overheated birthing-chamber at the Ministry HQ, where he had spent 9 very dull months isolated from the outside world. Fattened up like a sacred cow. No one ever looking him in the face, concerned only with his belly and what was going on inside it. But worst of all, after the "lumps" had been born and taken way, the room had cleared completely. He had been left lying on the bed, quite alone. It was some time before anyone even came to clean him up.
He turned away from the bar and looked around for the others. Closest to him was Bengo, who was sitting sulkily on a straw bale, staring at his feet.
"Bloody fucking Bardin", said the little clown, who was normally known for his amiability "I'd like to stick that hose up his arse and give it a good pump!"
"What hose?" said Tamaz "What are you talking about?"
Bengo pointed at one of the props in the wings. A joke fire-hose used by the Little Theatre clowns in one of their routines. It was a stirrup-pump which belched white foam in vast quantities.
"I've got an idea", said Tamaz "But I'll need your help".
Tamaz, with Bengo pumping for all he was worth, turned the hose on them all, the men of the FFF, with their archaic ideas which, if ever implemented, would cause so much misery. The ones who believed that all loving relationships between adults should only ever result in producing offspring (an attitude that was quite bestial in its approach), the ones who believed in the law of the jungle, in the strongest dictating everything, and if necessary annihilating those who were too weak, ill-educated, old or ugly to fit into their perfect scheme of things.
Tamaz, the half-human freak, assisted by a clown, turned the hose on them all.
Disillusioned with Toondor Lanpin, the foam-soaked FFFs went back to Myrtle's hotel, fully intending to go back to Krindei as soon as possible. Outside the hotel they found Kieran standing on a soap-box and preaching. He was naked, apart from some flower garlands that the women involved in the Festival had made up.
Adam dragged Joby out to see him by his hand.
"Oh he's in one of his St Francis of Assissi moods", said Joby, casually "Don't look so worried, Ad. He's been talking about doing this ever since we came back here. It doesn't mean he's gone peculiar again or anything. I had a feeling he was gonna do this, he's been so preoccupied lately".
"Joby", Adam, to the younger man's surprise, began to cry.
"I told you not to worry", said Joby.
"I'm not", said Adam, emotionally "But it's as if ... for the first time I realise his specialness. I've never felt it quite like this before, not even at his Presidential inauguration. He was always just Patsy, but oh ... it feels like he doesn't belong to us, as though he's on another planet somehow".
"That's daft", said Joby, robustly "You wait til we get home. I promise you you won't feel like that then! Now, will you hang around here and keep an eye on him? Make sure none of those jerks come back out and start harrassing him. I won't be long, but I want to go and see that Tamaz is alright".
"Yes of course", said Adam, blowing his nose "You run along".
Adam watched him walk back to the Festival site. He wished he knew exactly what had happened between Joby and Kieran in the hay-loft. Whatever it was had left them both with an astonishing calmness and an empathy with one another that surpassed even all that had gone before.
Back at the Festival site, Joby found Tamaz backstage, being made a fuss of by all the other Indigo-ites and a great number of the other performers. Tamaz though was fretful, and seemed more concerned that he couldn't find the skirt of his petticoat than anything else.
"It can't be far away", said Joby "Where did you last see it?"
"Bardin carried it out of the ring", said Tamaz.
"Then he must still have it", said Joby, trying to reassure his extraordinary lover, who was obviously suffering an emotional reaction to all the afternoon's events.
"Please find it", Tamaz sniffed "I'm tired of eveyrone looking at me in my drawers!"
"O.K", Joby couldn't help but give a fond laugh "I think the sooner I get both you and Kieran home the better!"
Finia was found in possession of the petticoat and Tamaz was re-clothed. Kieran eventually finished his preaching, with his audience largely made up of women. This wasn't entirely due to his nakedness, Kieran would have been the first to admit that in spite of his beauty he was no hunk, but the women of the town felt a protectiveness towards him. Without him their fate may well have been left to men not much different to the FFF. They had fostered a devotion to him ever since, and if Kieran was to ever be in need of an army, he could easily have raised one entirely composed of women! And chances are they would have defended him to the death too.
Over the next few days Tamaz developed summer flu, which accounted for his fretful behaviour at the Festival. Normally he would have revelled in the attention, but he had departed the Festival site, batting people away impatiently with his fur stole.
No one else got the bug as badly as him, but for a while the monastery seemed to go temporarily back into a siege situation. Kieran and Joby were unaffected by the bug, and took turns to nurse Tamaz, endlessly sponging him down with cold water and turning his pillow. As he began to recover he had long, quirky conversations with Kieran, where he asked the sort of questions a lively and intelligent child would have done. For instance, it took Kieran some while to convince him that angels weren't hermaphrodites.
"But you said they didn't have one sex!" Tamaz protested.
"I said they had no sex", said Kieran "They are sexless creatures. They don't need to have a gender. Because in Heaven everyone lives for eternity so no one has to reproduce, so the urge that drives us all down here is superfluous to them, they are free of it".
"So you don't have sex in Heaven?" said Tamaz, dubiously "Eternity must seen even longer up there!"
"I think we do", Kieran laughed "But it's a different kind of sex to what we know. It's not based purely on a physical urge, like ours is. It's mental and spiritual, because in Heaven you don't have a body you see".
"Then what the fuck do you have?" Tamaz exclaimed, thinking that the idea of mental and spiritual sex sounded dreary in the extreme!
"In Heaven we become spirits", said Kieran "And spirits are formless entities".
"Can we still see and touch each other?" said Tamaz.
"Yes, but not as we know it here", said Kieran "I suppose the best way I can describe it is tht we SENSE each other".
"Like scenting a prey?" said Tamaz.
"Not quite", said Kieran "By scenting I mean you absorb that other spirit entirely into your own, which is why I think spiritual sex is going to be even better than anything we've known down here".
"If you say so", said Tamaz, unconvinced "Although it sounds a bit like the feelings you get when you smoke cannabis to me. But I still don't know how we don't have a gender. Does that mean we'll all end up like Finia? He hasn't got a gender, not really. He's neither male nor female".
"Interesting idea", said Kieran "But you're still only looking at it from a physical side. In his mind Finia's a girl, but he's caught in a male body, even after having been castrated, he's still physically more male than female, but mentally he's a different story. To get the idea of a spirit you have to forget the physical side completely".
"That's hard to do", said Tamaz "I'm too much of a Ghoomer to do that".
"Ach well don't worry", said Kieran "I'll take care of you when you get to the other side".
"I doubt I'll end up in the same place as you", said Tamaz, sourly "More like Hell. And if it's like you said it was, I'll be living with bloody Gorth for all eternity, separated from you and Joby!"
"Now that wouldn't be very pleasent for us", said Kieran "So you'd have to come over to our place. You can't end up in Hell if you've touched us with so much love. No one's wicked who's done that".
Kieran wandered into the kitchen soon after. Through the door which led into the kitchen-garden he could see Adam and Lonts playing draughts on the stone bench. Toppy was sitting at their feet, like an illustration from a Victorian book of poetry.
Adam's portfolio and sketchbook lay on the kitchen table, with some loose drawings spilling out of it. Kieran picked them up at random. They weren't Adam's best work. He excelled at capturing people, but these were rather dramatic and stylised landscape scenes, under violent skyscapes.
"Was this your mood at the time you did them?" said Kieran, when Adam came in a short while later.
"Oh don't let Jules see them", said Adam "He would say this was another of my pathetic attempts to emulate Van Gogh! I was trying to do my own version of 'Starry Night', but it looks rather too nightmarish doesn't it?"
"The sky certainly looks busy that's for sure!" said Kieran, wryly.
"You have a delightfully Irish way of putting things sometimes, Pats", said Adam "I can hear the cart coming back, quick shove these into the folder".
Julian, Hillyard and Ransey had been on a shopping trip into town. Hot and sweaty, they unloaded the provisions into the kitchen, whilst giving them the welcome news that the FFF had gone back to Krindei.
"And that's not all", said Julian "There's been a telegraph message from dear Codlik. Glynis has been safely delivered of a baby boy".
"Is she alright?" said Adam "It seems dreadfully early".
"Only by 10 days", said Julian "And she's fine. The baby is in the rudest of good health, and Codlik is delirious with joy, so there's nothing for you to brood about".
"Apart from the fact that the real father is here with us", Adam sighed.
"Ada, I'm going to give you such a spanking if you refer to that again!" said Julian.
"So will I", said Hillyard.
"Well really!" said Adam, outraged.
"There is no need to mention it again", said Hillyard "Glynis and Codlik have got a house and a baby out of me, so I don't see why you or anyone else needs to harp on about it and make me feel guilty".
"That's one way of looking at it I suppose", said Adam, doubtfully.
"What's the point of going on about it?" said Ransey "That child doesn't need our pity. He's going to grow up in comfortable surroundings, with a real mother around. Not in some institutionalised camp like we were!"
Ransey went out into the courtyard in high dudgeon. The others looked uncomfortable. Hillyard eventually spoke to try and ease the situation.
"Glynis was in labour for 36 hours", he said "Makes you think doesn't it!"
"The sprog'll be hearing about that when he's older!" said Julian "Like my Mother kept on at me about how she'd undergone 11 hours of pain and torture just to bring me into the world. And I strongly suspect that was just having sex with my Father!"
Ransey kicked around in the yard for a while, unharnessing the horses and turning them into the patch of meadow beyond the stables. Afterwards he went into the dormitory to rinse himself in cold water. Tamaz was alone in there, naked and covered in a thin blanket. Ransey suddenly picked him up in his arms and carried him over to the window. Tamaz was convinced he was about to be thrown of it, and yodelled and squealed in terror, beating at Ransey with his fists. This window, like the dining-room one, overlooked the sheer drop on the north side of the monastery. Instead, Ransey set him down on the windowseat, and then sat down next to him.
One image kept going through Ransey's mind, purely imagined, that of Tamaz as a newborn baby, lying in the forest undergrowth at Marlsblad, abandoned by his mother immediately after the birth. Worse than an animal, the Gorgon wouldn't even have licked her offspring clean.
"It's all down to me", said Ransey, breathless and barely coherent "I was a beast, I didn't think of the consequences, only to ease the pressure in me somehow".
"Were you afraid?" said Tamaz, reading his thoughts for the first time.
Ransey didn't answer, instead he stared at Tamaz and said "I love you". The most effective phrase in the entire world, including when said from father to child.
"I'm glad", said Tamaz.
He turned and looked out of the window at the nice view.
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