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The morning immediately following Bengo and Bardin's latest domestic squabble became known in Toondor Lanpin as the Day Of The Collapsings. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that it was the most bizarre and inexplicable event ever to hit the town. On the south side of the river the row of tall, narrow, gloomy houses, which included the infamous Cockroach Mansions, all suddenly collapsed into a heap of rubble. It was as if a giant hand had removed a brick from the ground floor, and all the buildings collapsed like a stack of tins in a supermarket.
By some miracle no one was killed, but many of the inhabitants lost all their belongings under the dusty heap of confusion. The town hall was turned into an emergency refugee centre, and Myrtle donated spare mattresses from her hotel so that the new homeless at least now had something to sleep on.
Naturally there was much talk as what on earth could have happened. A mild earthquake seemed the most likely explanation, one that had been strong enough to loosen the neglected structure of these old and dilapidated buildings. This was borne out by one woman who said she had heard a rumbling sound just before the mayhem had started.
Adam and Kieran went over to help at the town hall, and found themselves being assisted by Codlik and Glynis, who had heard about the Collapsings via the telegraph, and had flown in immediately "to offer hindrance", as Julian put it.
Glynis was very much the lady of the manor these days. Although still warm-hearted and liked by everyone on Woll's estate, she had developed an unmistakeably regal bearing. The bubbly blonde of the waterfront had gone. This wasn't entirely due to her change in fortune, some of it came from disappointment as well, deep, inner disappointment, which because of her outwardly very cushy life, she had to keep to herself.
In spite of her comfortable lifestyle, her baby (whom she adored), and a husband who had a genuine affection for her, Glynis missed the waterfront days. She forgot the crippling poverty of them, and instead dwelt only on long, hot summer days tending her allotment with Joby. It was Joby all the time. Joby. Joby. Joby. A man who would have been the first to admit that he wasn't the sort to inspire lifelong passion and devotion in a woman! Everyone else had believed that the infatuation would pass, as most of them tended to after a while, but this one seemed to have rooted itself deep in her soul. If it had been purely sexual, chances are it would have passed by now, but unfortunately Glynis firmly believed that she had found her soul-mate in Joby, and soul-mates weren't so easily forgotten as sexual infatuations.
"You're bloody useless, Lonts", Joby was now saying. They were all sorting clothes which had been donated for those who had lost everything. Joby, who had been caught in a vicious spring storm on his way to the town hall, was not in the best of tempers.
"I'm not useless", said Lonts.
"You are, you're always in the way!" said Joby "We'd all be better off if you went home".
"No he can't do that", said a young girl sitting nearby "I'd have no one to stare at then!"
Lonts triumphantly stuck his tongue out at Joby.
Bengo and Toppy, who had been sent on a door-to-door collection in the rain, burst into the room dragging a sack-truck laden down with bundles. Reclining on them as well was Tamaz. His drenched hair emphasised his face and made him look even more beautiful and androgynous than ever. It would have been impossible from looking at him solely from the neck up to tell what sex he was. Chances are he looked so striking no one would have cared!
Glynis saw the fond smile Joby sent his way, and it went into her like a knife.
"Julian says we're to come home", said Toppy, wiping his sodden face with the sleeve of his jacket.
"Oh dear, is the little boy feeling neglected?" said Adam.
"He says we've done enough here", said Toppy "Particularly now that Hillyard's sent up the re-housing fund too".
"Yes that's true", said Adam "Well I shan't argue, I've had enough for one day. Let's all go home".
Codlik and Glynis had both overheard this exchange. They were staying at Myrtle's, and could be guaranteed a decent dinner there. Unfortunately Adam was too well-bred to simply walk off without inviting them round for supper first.
"We'll come round later", said Codlik "After we've done a bit more here".
(It was the kind of sanctimonious response that made you regret trying to do someone a favour!)
Glynis watched them all leave. The closeness of the Indigo-ites became more and more apparent each time she saw them. They had always been a tightly-knit group, like a secret sect with its own code of living, but now it had moved onto another, more unreachable level. It was as if in their own minds they had actually already gone to their remote sanctuary. They lived only for each other. They were civil (largely) to the outside world, but only because to be otherwise would make day-to-day life unbearable. But the outside world was flat and boring, compared with what they had with each other. The outside world couldn't compete, and some of their critics in the outside world resented this fact, to them it smacked of elitism. How dare the Indigo-ites presume to think they didn't need anyone else?!
This was unfair. All the Indigo-ites wanted to do was to love each other, and enjoy life on their own terms. And as these terms didn't involve hurting anyone else, only a person of an exceptionally bitter and frustrated mind could perceive it as wrong. Unfortunately there are, and always have been, a lot of those sort about!
"Hang these up on the indoor line", said Tamaz, standing on the first-floor landing back at the Town House, handing his clothes to Toppy, who scuttled away to do his bidding.
Tamaz put a clean shirt on over his drawers, and Mieps began to towel-dry his hair for him.
"Oi!" Joby yelled, coming out of his bedroom with his bath-robe on "I heard the way you were talking to Toppy just now, and I don't like it! He's not your personal slave".
"He enjoys it", Tamaz shrugged "And there's no getting away from that fact".
"It's no good reasoning with a Ghoomer brat", said Mieps "The only language they know is a beating".
Tamaz yelped and dodging out of his grasp ran down the stairs. He reached the living-room and flung himself onto Julian's lap.
"Mieps was threatening to beat me!" he wailed.
"I'm sorely disappointed with Mieps", said Julian "He doesn't beat you anywhere near as often as he promised he would!"
"Tamaz is really sexy", said Lonts.
"So he should be", said Bardin "He's our mascot".
"Don't encourage him", said Joby, slouching into the room, still in his new dressing-gown.
"Go and answer the door, Bengo", said Adam, after the familiar rat-tat-tat of the door-knocker had sounded "That'll be our visitors".
Bengo groaned and crawled laboriously to the living-room door on his hands and knees, as Toppy came in.
"I could whip your arse for inviting those two over, Ada", said Julian, irritably.
"I had no choice, Jules", said Adam "It would have looked terribly rude if I hadn't".
"Toppy, go upstairs and fetch my trousers", said Tamaz, dodging behind the armchair in which Joby was sitting "Otherwise they'll see me in my drawers".
"Freaky, I should think the whole world has seen you in your drawers by now!" said Julian.
"I'm not giving bloody Glynis the satisfaction!" said Tamaz.
"Joby, I really think you should get dressed properly too, old love", said Adam.
"Why?" said Joby.
"Because the sight of your legs might set her off again", Adam hissed.
"It doesn't need much!" said Kieran.
"Jules, say something to all of them", said Adam, desperately.
"I don't need to", said Julian "Suffice it to say I'll have plenty of beatings to administer after this evening!"
Kieran gave a whoop of pleasure, and then had to stop in mid-whoop when Codlik and Glynis came into the room.
"Just imposing a little discipline", said Julian, nonchalantly.
Inevitably the visitors' eyes were drawn to his cane, which reposed on top of the piano. He had brought it downstairs a couple of days earlier to threaten the clowns with it.
"Hillyard", said Adam, sternly "Haul your fat stomach out of the chair and let Glynis sit down".
"Where's the kid?" said Hillyard, bluntly, looking up at Glynis.
"He's with Bertha", said Glynis, through gritted teeth.
Adam was dismayed by Hillyard's abruptness, and decided to make a quick escape to the kitchen, taking Lonts with him.
"This whole evening is going to be an absolute disaster", said Adam, leaning against the kitchen door "And Jules is sure to blame me for it".
"I can take your mind off it", said Lonts, ripping open Adam's shirt, and then doing the same to his flies "We do not need to think about them!"
Adam had rarely spent a more embarrassing (or enjoyable) evening. He had to return to the living-room, clutching his torn flies to keep them within the bounds of decency. Only to find he needn't have bothered as everyone had overheard their antics anyway, with Lonts rogering him over the kitchen table and all. To Adam's annoyance the clowns had found the whole thing very amusing, and lay behind Julian's chair, screaming with laughter.
Fortunately, at 9 o'clock, Codlik and Glynis took their leave. Adam showed them out of the street door, holding his flies together. As soon as they had been despatched into the street, he shed his trousers with a huge sigh of relief.
"Have you any idea of the nonsense you've caused this evening?" said Julian, coming into the hall "You invite them round and then behave in a disgraceful fashion!"
"It wasn't me!" said Adam.
"We had to listen to the kitchen table shunting across the floor!" said Julian.
"I'm sorry", said Adam, above the din of the gramophone which had been started up in the living-room "But it's very hard to resist Lo-Lo when he's being masterful. Oh everyone's behaved badly this evening, Jules. Hillyard shouldn't have said what he did, and Joby should have got dressed, and the clowns should be sent away to a very strict military academy! None of us are fit to be in polite company!"
Julian dragged him into the living-room, slapping his rump as he did so.
"Harder! Harder!" Joby cried, folded up in his armchair.
Ransey grabbed the cane off the piano and dealt Julian a swpie across the backside with it.
"Bastard!" Julian cried "Fiend!"
"You love me really!" said Ransey.
"It was a terrible evening", said Adam, leaning against the wall on the quayside, the following morning.
"Before or after Codlik and Glynis went home?" said Kieran.
"Both!" said Adam "It wouldn't surprise me if both of them refused to come round again".
"And we're meant to be upset by that?!" Joby exclaimed.
"It was a right old time wasn't it?" said Kieran "After they went, I mean. C'mon Addy, you've got to admit that".
"I'm not sure I want to speak to you two little scrotes", said Adam "I haven't forgotten Joby yelling 'harder! harder! when Jules walloped me".
"Ach that's Joby for you", said Kieran "However much he may protest, he enjoys a bit of rough!"
"As long as it's not me it's being done to", said Joby, sitting down on the bench nearby.
The other two sat down on either side of him, and all 3 of them squinted up at the bright spring sunshine. Claudia and Gloria, the Siamese twins joined at the hip, came out of Persephone's bar carrying a tray of Hot Cross Buns, and offered them a tasting.
"Hot Cross Buns?" said Adam, in disbelief "I don't think I've ever had one in this time. This is wonderful!"
"Emily came across an old recipe", said Gloria "Thought it might be nice to celebrate the Spring Festival in the old way".
"They've got plenty of raisins in 'em too", said Joby, with approval.
The twins moved off with their distinctive crab-like walk to offer the tray around anyone else on the quayside. Kieran was overcome with emotion.
"This is wonderful", he said "I never thought we'd see this again. Religion at its very best. Oh if only it could stay like this for centuries to come, no one to come along and ruin it".
"Someone's bound to", said Joby "Any amount of nutters could come out of the woodwork over the centuries, and if anything's gonna bring out it'll be religion".
"But this moment's good isn't it?" said Kieran "Even though it's down to religion?"
"Yes", said Joby "This moment's good".
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