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By Sarah Hapgood

The following morning Hoowie slipped off the sloop early and went round to Codlik's yacht, for the sole purpose of sneaking into the stewards' quarters and annoying the hell out of all those "toffee-nosed gits" who had given him a hard time during his brief sojourn up at the big house. As Hoowie's own unique talent seemed to be that of upsetting people, he succeeded rather well. When the other Indigio-ites realised where he had gone, they guessed his motives immediately. Toppy then electrified them all by saying he would go round himself and collect him.

"I don't want him anywhere near this boat again", said Glynis, who had been having morning coffee with Codlik and Brinslee under a covered awning on the sun-deck.

"He won't, I promise you", said Toppy, who then kicked Hoowie up the backside before taking him off the yacht.

"I wish I understood what their rush was to get home", said Brinslee "Must be some place this Bay".

"It's lovely there", said Glynis "Leon thoroughly enjoyed it. He's been on at me for the past few days to turn the boat round and go straight back there!"

"I have never understood their need to shut themselves away from the world", said Codlik "It's a recipe for disaster if you ask me. Extremely unhealthy. People forming secret communes".

"Oh rubbish!" said Glynis "There's nothing secret about it at all. And just because some enclosed groups aren't a good idea doesn't mean they're all like that. I think they manage extremely well. I can't think of another 16 people who could live together in such an extremely tight-knit way, not without wanting to murder each other! You're just bloody well jealous because you can't entice that ... that Mieps creature away from them!"

"Glynis!" Codlik looked shocked to his very core, as did Brinslee "H-how could you?"

"Oh stop being such a hypocritical old fool", said Glynis "I'm tired of pretence. We all play the idiot at times, and I'm tired of pretending that your particular idiocy doesn't exist!"

Glynis looked as though she was about to flatten Codlik with one punch, and Brinslee was panicking, wondering what he should do if she did. Instead Glynis turned and walked briskly inside.

"Glynis!" Codlik scampered after her "I'm sorry! Glynis? Fogive me!"

Julian got out of bed and put on his favourite black silk pyjamas.

"Your morning coffee m'lord", said Adam, bringing in a tray and putting it on the desk.

"Is Kieran aboard?" said Julian.

"Yes, why, do you want to see him?" said Adam.

"No, I just wanted to be certain he hadn't gone ashore and started meddling in something else", said Julian "I want to know exactly where he is at all times, until we've left here anyway".

"I don't think he's got any plans to go ashore this morning", said Adam "He's up on the poop-deck at the moment, playing chess with Rumble. Do you want to see Bardin now, or after you've had some breakfast first?"

"Now, definitely", said Julian "Nothing like a bit of corporal punishment before breakfast!"

"Yes well don't go getting carried away", said Adam "No canes and riding-crops. He's a very sensitive lad under that gruff exterior".

"I sometimes wonder if he's a reincarnation of the Marquis de Sade", said Julian.

"Oh Jules really!" said Adam.

"I don't mean that in any insulting way", said Julian.

"How can you call someone a reincarnation of the Marquis de Sade and not mean it in any insulting way?!" said Adam.

"He has very intense orgasms, as did Sade", said Julian "Sade used to scream when he orgasmed, and shake as though in an epileptic fit, and spray his sperm at the ceiling".

"I think we might have noticed if Bardin had such spectacular orgasms, Jules!" said Adam "That sounds more like Bengo! He can never control his excitement, and always ejaculates too soon".

"Well that's just Bengo isn't it!" said Julian "But Bardin bears much more of a likeness. He's very bossy, but at the same time likes a firm hand himself, and he enjoys vigorous buggery".

"Yes, rather like you", said Adam, dryly "In fact, if you were a reincarnation of the Marquis de Sade I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised! Bardin is nothing like Sade. He's never beaten up prostitutes or molested servant girls".

"I'm not saying he has ... come to think of it, neither I have, thank you very much!" said Julian "I'm merely saying that from a purely psychological point of view, he bears some similarities, except that the big difference is, Bardin is completely harmless".

"Well I'm glad we've cleared that up", Adam sighed "Would you like to see him now?"

"Most certainly", said Julian.

"Do you understand?" said Julian, smacking Bardin very hard on the backside as he spoke "You do not commit sodomy in the food-store! Disgraceful behaviour!"

"Aren't you glad we are disgraceful?!" said Bardin, lying across his lap.

Julian continued to spank him, whilst Bardin groaned with sensual pleasure.

"Julian! Julian!" Bengo ran shouting into the cabin.

"You wait your turn", said Julian, tersely.

"There's a party coming over to see us, from Codlik's yacht", Bengo gasped "Codlik, and Glynis, and Dolores, and Brinslee ..."

"And Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all!" Julian sang "Alright, calm down, I know it's a bloody nuisance but it's not the end of the world".

"I thought you'd like to know before they got here", said Bengo.

"I do, I'm glad you've warned us", said Julian, regretfully caressing Bardin's backside, trim and firm in its snugly-fitting trousers "We're always being interrupted. We never have this problem at the Bay".

He helped Bardin to slide to his feet, and then kissed him very lovingly on the mouth. Bengo watched, dewy-eyed with rapture.

Adam had ordered Joby to do a quick and very sketchy spring-clean of the galley, in case their visitors all decided to come and have a nose-round in there. Thus Joby was now on his hands and knees sweeping the floor with a bundle of twigs tied together at one end. Tamaz watched him, sitting on the kitchen table, wearing only his drawers.

"What have I been saying for the past 5 minutes?" said Joby, looking up at him "Put your shirt on!"

"Why?" said Tamaz "They've all seen my tits before".

"Brinslee hasn't", said Joby.

"Get him going will they?" said Tamaz, saucily.

"Don't go getting any ideas", said Joby, waving the brush at him threateningly "Or Bardin won't be the only one to get a bit of family discipline round here".

"Sometimes you're as bad as Mieps", said Tamaz, pulling on his shirt "He's said that if me and him lived alone together, he'd beat me with a brush like that everyday".

"If you and him lived alone together, I expect he'd have to, or you'd drive him potty!" said Joby, getting to his feet "Anyway, the amount of trouble he's caused lately, he deserves a good thrashing more than anyone!"

Tamaz yodelled with delight.

Kieran came down the narrow steps which led directly from under the poop-deck.

"You're not going ashore today are you?" said Tamaz "Only Julian doesn't want you to".

"Has he said that to you?" said Kieran.

"Not to me", said Tamaz "I overheard him saying it to Adam".

"Listening at doors again, eh?" said Kieran.

"That's the only way I get to hear things", said Tamaz, indignantly "No one ever tells me anything directly. He's frightened you'll go meddling in something else, and then we'll all be in trouble, as if we haven't had enough to contend with over the years!"

Kieran looked at Joby, who suddenly busied himself with the bucket of scraps for the goats. It was obvious from his demeanour though that he shared Julian's views entirely. For the first time Kieran realised that his own public image had overtaken him. It seemed to have taken on a life-force of its own and departed his body, out of his control. He had been around for so long now, and had such a great presence, that most of the public now saw The Presence, and not the man behind it. This had always partly been the case, but never as strong as it was now. He had become immortal in his own lifetime, a terrible burden for any human being. Whilst still very much flesh and blood, in the eyes of the world though he had become a spirit. If he was to die tomorrow there would be no need for any changes in the public's perception of him. It no longer mattered in the slightest what he said or did to the world at large, because he was Kieran, and that was enough. Far from filling up his ego, it made him feel smaller than an ant. Because in the eyes of the world the real Kieran, the one who ate, slept and performed all the necessary human functions, had already faded into history. From now on The Presence called Kieran was all that concerned the public. If the Vanquisher of Evil had wanted solely to be regarded as a symbol of love, he had succeeded. But with a slight tinge of regret for his own sense of self, he realised he had succeeded too well. He had joined the ranks of the great and good religious leaders of history. It was hardly a comfort to him that many of them had met violent deaths!

"Are you alright?" said Tamaz, abruptly.

"We'll be going home later", said Kieran, softly.

"I think it's important you stay out of politics from now on", said Joby, as though he'd been reading his thoughts "You're no bloody good to us dead!"

"He won't die", said Tamaz "He'll just transform himself".

"I don't want him transformed!" said Joby "I like him as he is!"

The hold was a hive of carnal activity. On hearing that Codlik was aboard, Hillyard had forcibly detained Mieps in the hay-store, and in spite of the stuffiness, and Mieps's obvious annoyance at being deprived of some mischief-making, he had made love to him there.

Bengo had taken Bardin into the smallest section of the hold for much the same reason. As soon as Brinslee had walked into the cabin, Julian had ordered the clowns out of it. And for good reason. Brinslee had taken a very obvious shine to Bardin and was making no secret of it. Julian quietly joked to Adam that it was a good job Bengo had warned them of his approach, otherwise Brinslee would have walked in whilst Bardin was sprawled across his knee, offering Brinslee a front-row view of one of his best assets!

After leaving the cabin the clowns had walked hand-in-hand along the corridor like a couple of Dickensian orphans. Bardin was quiet and placid after his chastisement, which was pretty much par for the cause. He was undoubtedly bossy and a control-freak, he liked to manipulate people like chess pieces, and was well-chosen as Julian's successor as Captain. Like Julian, he enjoyed the idea and responsibility of being the central pivot around whom everyone else moved. But, as with Julian, what prevented him from becoming an insufferable mini-tyrant, was also his innate need to be put in his place. To have someone else draw up firm borders for his behaviour. Kieran had learnt at a young age that it suited him to be "punished", as it helped to lessen the dreaded weight of responsibility which at times threatened to engulf him. He wanted to be able to willingly put himself in someone else's hands from time to time. Bardin was exactly the same.

Glynis had remarked earlier that the Indigo-ites were phenomenally successful at living together as a communal unit. One of the main reasons for this was that they fully understood each other's need and, perhaps even more importantly, accepted them. They all understood that they were unanimously creating an ideal of a childhood they had never known. All of them had had fairly cold, loveless upbringings. In Finia's case, downright cruel, perverted and brutal, and in Tamaz and Mieps's, so savage and bestial that it would be barely recognisable to most humans. Ransey, Hillyard, Toppy and Hoowie had also been brought up in children's camps, which were strong on regimentation and weak on warmth and affection. The clowns had trod the boards from an early age, told that the sole reason for their being was to make pillocks of themselves for everyone else's amusement. Lonts had been brought up in a remote tundra village, entirely inhabited by embittered, frustrated men. The 4 time-crossers all came from dysfunctional families, who were frankly inept at showing any love for each other. Even Kieran's mother, who had easily been the most kind and nurturing of the parents, had been a fairly aloof figure, so anxious about her business that she largely left her dreamy, sensitive only child in the care of his imagination.

"Bardy", said Bengo, as his friend kissed his face "No, listen to me. I want us to get married, whilst we're here in Aspiriola".

"We haven't got time", said Bardin, continuing to kiss him "Julian wants to leave this afternoon, and it takes days to get a licence".

"Not if you bribe the registrar", said Bengo "If you can do that they can perform the ceremony on the spot. Hillyard or Kieran would pay for it, and we could get it done this afternoon before we leave. It would only take a few minutes".

"Is this what you want?" said Bardin, pausing in his kissing, in order to look at him properly.

"Yes", said Bengo, fiddling with the hem of his t-shirt "It's what I've always wanted, ever since I can remember. It would make everything complete. But we'd still live as we are. I mean, Ransey and Finia live with the rest of us, yet they're married. And we can still carry on screwing Freak-Face, it's just it'll mean so much inside of me, where it counts. And as I said to you at the Castle in the rainforest, you were always meant to be the one for me. Only I didn't see that for years. We've always been like a married couple anyway".

"All the best comic double-acts always are", Bardin smiled.

It was unfortunate that Julian hadn't been privy to this conversation, because at this moment he was getting into a fine old lather over Brinslee's persistent and increasing interest in Bardin. Eventually Julian curtly informed his visitors that he hadn't had any breakfast yet, and stormed along to the galley, where Joby, Kieran and Tamaz were sitting gossiping around the small table.

"Oh blimey, I forgot about your breakfast", said Joby, when Julian reminded him.

"Evidently", said Julian, sitting down whilst Joby began to mess about with bowls and eggs.

"Tamaz, get some cutlery out", said Joby.

Tamaz sighed, and set the table with exaggerated care. When he had finished, Julian swiped his backside.

"Ow!" Tamaz cried "What was that for?"

"Listening at doorways", said Julian.

"How did you know that?" said Tamaz "Even Kieran only guessed it just now".

"Ah but Kieran is merely psychic", said Julian "Whereas I am all-seeing, all-hearing and all-knowing".

"I bet what we've got to tell you, you don't already know", said Bengo, appearing in the doorway to the food-store, holding hands with Bardin.

"Why do I get the feeling of impending doom?" said Julian.

He didn't have a chance to hear about the clowns' plans though, because Adam's voice could be heard in the corridor, trying to pacify Brinslee.

"I'm sure it was just a misunderstanding", said Adam, waspishly "We'll soon get it cleared up".

"Oh God, here it comes", said Julian "An emotional tirade. An A-Z listing of all my faults in glorious Technicolour!"

"Julian", said Adam, coming into the room "What's all this about...?"

"Don't start", said Julian "The clowns were about to tell us something".

"And there ent room for Brinslee in here as well", said Joby, briskly beating eggs.

"Bardy and me are getting married", said Bengo "Hillyard's agreed to bribe a registrar for us, and we can get it done this afternoon before we leave town. It won't disrupt our original plans at all".

"Married?" Tamaz exclaimed, as though they'd said they were going to have each other vivisected.

"Oh don't worry Freak-Face, we'll still carry on shagging you", said Bardin.

"Well it won't be much of a honeymoon for you, old loves", said Adam "Sailing back home with the rest of us".

"We can make up a bed for 'em in the hold", said Joby.

"That's not important", said Bardin "When we get back to the Bay, we can always go over to the old lighthouse for a few days on our own or something".

"This is good news", said Adam "Jules can stop worrying, can't you? Although we'd better do a quick bit of organising".

"After I've had some breakfast", said Julian, as Joby put a plate of scrambled eggs down in front of him "I've had to wait long enough for it!"

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