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Kieran had never anticipated that his act of riding a horse a few times round the ring would require so much rehearsing, or that there would have to be so many aspects to it to take into account. He quickly began to find the seriousness with which it was all regarded to be highly tedious. Adam lectured him that these people were only being professional and he must listen to them, but Kieran was rarely in the mood.
A few days before the opening of the Spring Festival he pleaded exhaustion in order to escape from the clutches of a downright bumptious make-up technician, who practically strapped him down on the sawdust in order to establish how to show him off to best advantage under the circus lighting. This man was rude throughout the session, only once relenting to say, rather grudgingly, that Kieran had good bone structure.
He felt drained after this, and retreated back to the wagon for a lie-down. Everyone else, including Adam, was out. Kieran wasn't happy about this, as he suspected Adam was with Julian somewhere, although he knew that in all certainty this meant Adam would return home in a foul temper. He lay down on his bunk and sought sleep.
Joby was getting rather carried away, he thought. He was biting Kieran's flesh, sucking at it like a rather vigorous love-bite. It was beginning to be quite painful. Kieran tried nudging him and telling him to ease off, but his friend wasn't listening.
"Joby darling", he said, trying to shift himself away "You're hurting me. Stop it, this isn't like you".
Too right it wasn't. Kieran reached down to touch him. Joby had latched his teeth onto the area just below his right nipple and was sucking on it with all his might. Kieran tried to push him away, but his hands encountered something wet and slippery. This wasn't Joby, he thought, this wasn't even human. He looked down at the dark mass latched onto the side of his body like a malignant growth. He tried to scream, but frustratingly nothing came out. He had no energy. The creature was sucking him dry.
"For Christ's sake Adam", said Joby "I found him like it. He's unconscious and he's bleeding all over the place. We've got to try and stop it somehow".
Adam pulled back the sheet on the bunk and stepped back in horror. What looked like a gallon of blood had saturated Kieran's torso. It was so thick and congealed in parts that his vest was welded firmly to his skin.
"We'd better get him to the M.O", said Adam, and scooped him up in his arms.
"What's caused it?" said Joby.
"I don't know, except I should imagine it's something to do with Gabriel".
"He's lost a great deal of blood", said the medical officer attached to the circus "He'll need an immediate blood transfusion. I'll test him for his blood-group. Have you any idea what you are?"
"I-I can't remember", Adam stammered "Can't you make him wake up?"
"We'll get the transfusion done first. Don't worry. Unless he has some extraordinarily rare blood group, shared only by two other people in the entire world, I don't anticipate any problems. He's unconscious because of the blood loss, he's gone into a prolonged faint. Now you can help matters by stepping to one side and letting me get the job done".
Adam hovered outside the M.O's wagon for the next couple of hours. He had told Joby to mind Lonts, and for once he hadn't argued, instead he was glad of the diversion. The blood transfusion progressed without a hitch, with Hillyard turning out to be the compatible donor.
"He's still unconscious", said Adam, when he called back in later. Hillyard was resting on the next bunk with a bandage round his arm "Why is he still unconscious?"
"These things take time", the M.O began.
"In other words you don't know!"
"Come here and look at this", the M.O pulled up the padding which he had taped over the mysterious wound on Kieran's chest "What does that remind you of?"
"Good God", said Adam "Vampire bites! Surely not?"
"Only he'll be able to tell us the truth when he comes round".
"This has happened before. Oh I don't mean the bites, but he went into a catatonic trance when we were in Xuste. It's Gabriel's doing. I think he sets a Familiar, an elemental, onto him".
"Whatever it was", said the M.O "It was trying to suck all the blood from him. If young Joby hadn't gone into your wagon when he did it may well have completely succeeded".
When Kieran finally regained consciousness in the early evening, he found himself trying to focus on the bottle green curtains of the screen which the M.O had pulled around his bunk. For a moment he panicked, thinking he was back at the Loud House, until he heard the distant noises of the show in the background. Joby was sitting next to the bunk, staring at him anxiously.
"Thank God!" he cried "You're back".
Kieran tried to sit up and noticed the bandages around his arm and chest.
"Joby, what's happened?" he said.
"You're alright now", Joby pushed him back onto the pillows "You've had a blood transfusion. You've got a bit of Vintage Hillyard pumping round you know. So we'd better watch you don't go trying to bonk everything in sight!"
"There was someone lying next to me Joby", said Kieran "I thought it was you at first. But then ... it was sucking the blood from me".
"Can you remember what it looked like?"
"A slug. A giant, black slug", Kieran began to cry.
"Alright, don't think of it now. It's gone, and that's all that matters. One of us will sit with you all night, to make sure it doesn't come back. You'll be fine now".
"He keeps trying doesn't he?" said Kieran, weakly.
"Yea", said Joby "But he doesn't succeed".
"Adam, what are you doing here? It must be very late. I can't hear any showtime noises".
"It's about four a.m", said Adam "It'll be light soon. It's my turn to take watch".
"It won't be long before everyone's stirring again", Kieran began to pick at the tapes that held his chest bandage in place.
"Don't touch that", said Adam "You might re-open the wound".
"It's so quiet", said Kieran "You rarely hear the circus this quiet".
"I know, it's eerie", said Adam "I sometimes hear the lions in their cages, growling and pacing about".
"I seem to make a habit of this don't I?" said Kieran "This time was the worst though".
"Joby tells me you said it was a giant slug".
"Oh it's simply yet another piece of witchcraft Gabriel was practising on me", said Kieran "Very Medieval really. Sending some demon to suck energy from me whilst I sleep. It's just a vampiric form of an incubus".
"The M.O told me that if Joby hadn't come in when he did you would have ..." Adam swallowed "You would have died".
"It shows you how I can beat him with love you see", Kieran peeled away the bandage from his chest to reveal the two bite-marks.
"Patsy, for heaven's sake", Adam tried to replace the bandage.
"No I don't need it Adam", said Kieran "Are we alone here?"
"Yes, everyone else is asleep. Why?"
"Make love to me".
"Patsy, I don't think you're up to it".
"Please Adam. Think of it as an experiment. I'm certain that if you make love to me then these marks will disappear. Remember what we were told once? Fight evil with love. Or don't you fancy me anymore?"
Kieran pulled him forcibly onto the bunk. Adam became aroused immediately and pinned him down with kisses. He rolled him onto his front and kissed his buttocks, before following the trail up his spine.
"I need you", said Kieran, as Adam sought his mouth once more "Fock me until the marks go down. As hard as you can".
The marks didn't go down entirely, but they were reduced to being pink pimples. Kieran traced them with his finger and giggled softly.
"I knew it would work", he said "I hope you don't feel used?"
"You can use me like that anytime you like", said Adam, lying next to him "Although it's a shame you have to get yourself put in the sick wagon before we can get enough privacy to do it!"
"It's funny", said Kieran "Nothing sums up the absurdity of life quicker for me. I lie there grimacing with ecstasy and pain, whilst you pump sperm into me, and Gabriel gets weaker and weaker with each thrust".
Adam slapped the mattress with exasperation.
"Have I said something wrong?" said Kieran.
"No, you said everything right", Adam groaned "If I could be with you all the time, as a proper couple, Gabriel wouldn't keep having the success he does. But I'm sharing you with five others, plus Cootie's demands, and now even fucking Julian's on the scene again and getting in the way. I want to be with just you! To lie night after night with you like this. I want to see your blue eyes next to me when I wake up. It's not bloody fair Patsy. I don't care if I am being selfish. I want you all to myself!"
"I know it's difficult", Kieran rolled onto him and stroked his face "But it just can't be like that. I find it as hard to accept as you do sometimes".
"But you have Joby to consider", said Adam.
"I got the impression you quite enjoyed considering him yourself at times", Kieran laughed "Anyway it's not just Joby. There's Lonts too".
"We do seem to have rather got ourselves saddled one way and another don't we?" said Adam "But times like this mean so much to me Pats. I feel it's only when I'm alone with you like this that I'm truly me".
Preparations for the Spring Festival were at fever-pitch. On the surface Cootie kept his customary cool sober-suited demeanour, but inside he felt as though he suffered several heart-attacks in the course of one day. The news that the Vanquisher had been called to the sick bay filled him with horror. Kieran was to be the highlight of the show after all. The Vanquisher then promptly reassured him by turning up in his office the following day looking as fit as a fiddle.
If anything Kieran felt better than he had in a long while. It was spring, he was in love, and confident he could beat Gabriel simply by staying in that condition. It was also what had once been called Holy Week in his own time. This was one of his favourite times of the year. When he was a child the whole week had been one of high drama. The sombre intensity of the days leading up to Easter Day, when suddenly all the veils would be torn from the statues in the cathedral, singing would break out and there would be cake for tea once more.
In the days running up to the Saturday show the sap was well and truly rising all over the camp. Everyone was as frisky as a rabbit, and every dark corner seemed to be filled with heaving bodies. When Elodie the Exhibitionist went out into the streets to rouse interest for the show he was more likely to get twirled around than spat upon at the moment. The whole spirit of springtime was highly infectious indeed. As were many sexual complaints which kept the M.O busy during this period. But however much he dished out lectures on "precautionary measures" no one listened. One of the acrobats even told him that "when you love someone you love their disease too and want to share it". The M.O gave up in despair, and longed for a calmer time when everyone would feel less sentimental about everything.
"So this is your idea of living like a refugee is it Julian?" said Adam, looking around at the Bedouin-style tent littered with silk shawls and cushions, china teapots, jos-sticks and wind-chimes.
"One has to keep up one's standards wherever possible", said Julian.
"Is that a dig at me?" Adam snapped "Because I'm cooped up in a dilapidated wagon with five others!"
"Don't be so prickly. I didn't invite you here to snap at me".
"Well who do you think you are?" Adam snorted in disgust "Look at this place. It looks like Rudolph Valentino's love-nest".
"Here", Julian held out a small wooden box "Get your teeth round that and stop complaining. It used to be called Turkish Delight in our time. They call it something completely unimaginative now which I've forgotten. I know what a sweet tooth you've got on the quiet, so tuck in".
"You remind me of the witch in some children's story", said Adam, sampling one of the confections "She seduced a small boy by offering him Turkish Delight".
"I wish I could seduce you", said Julian, preparing coffee in an ornate pot "I'd give up everything to get my faculties entirely working again".
"The best coffee too", Adam picked up the tin "You are spoiling me. What's the game?"
"There's no game. I want to spoil you. After all, I don't suppose any of your cute boys considers spoiling you. Too busy wanting you to sort out their problems instead. And you do like being pampered on the quiet Adam. I remember you see. I bet I know more about you than any of them".
"Everybody likes being pampered from time to time", said Adam, shortly "I'm not exceptional in that department".
"But you so desperately want to feel loved don't you?" said Julian "Anything to make up for your brute of a father. It was always so easy to get round you for that reason".
"And you used to exploit it to the full", said Adam "Where's Finia this afternoon? Still torturing that poor snake?"
"He's getting to be quite good at it actually. Spends nearly all his waking moments in rehearsal".
"I hope it keeps him out of mischief. So", Adam sighed "We're alone are we?"
"Rather looks that way", said Julian.
"Oh well", said Adam "We can always have a nice game of cards I suppose".
"You are a sarcastic little bastard Adam. Just because I have a permanently flaccid cock doesn't mean I can't get up to anything at all".
"No but it does rather take the bite out of it don't you think?"
"As soon as I'm cured of this you'd better watch out, as you're going to have so much owing to you!"
"I can't wait", said Adam.
"Oh Adam", said Julian "I do so want us to be friends. You wouldn't believe how lonely I get at times. Finia's very sweet, but I miss a companion, someone of my own age with my own interests. I don't see why we can't be friends. We have everything in common".
"And that's precisely why we can't", said Adam "I'm a great believer in opposites attracting Julian. I don't have much time for friends who think exactly the same as each other. With us ... well it was just competition all the time. Trying to score points off each other".
"But surely that's stimulating?"
"Some people might find it so, but not me. I get stimulated by being with friends I can have fun with, not seeing who is the most intelligent or the most artistic, or who's grandfather had the most money. I don't want to be in a race with people. And another thing about you and me was that with you I could never be myself".
"It's true Julian!" Adam exclaimed "You were always the extrovert who went around bragging about his art. And I was reduced to being the mouse-like camp-follower. The loyal, dependable friend. The sensible one. For God's sake Julian, I used to get so frustrated playing that role that I nearly screamed. It wasn't me".
"Your trouble is my dear that you don't want a friend on your own level", said Julian "You want those pretty little boys who look up to you and adore you. I'd be careful if I was you. That's the slippery slope to becoming a silly old queen".
"You always make everything sordid Julian", said Adam, trying desperately not to cry "You always reduce it to your level. That's what I hate about you. What I always hated about you. The way you used to trample on my dreams, and it's only now I realise why. You used to trample on them to keep me under control, because otherwise you knew damn well that if I realised my full potential you'd lose me".
"Dear, dear, we do have an inflated opinion of ourselves! Must be having the Vanquisher as a lover that does it. Since arriving here I've seen how they all are with you. We must ask Adam this, we must get his permission before we do anything, we must kiss his arse. And you sit there like the King of Tonga lapping it up as your divine right".
"Be careful Julian", Adam laughed "Your envy's showing".
Julian cuffed him violently on the side of his head. It took Adam so by surprise that he fell back onto a silk-covered futon. Julian took advantage of his disorientation to pounce on him.
"Come on!" he yelled at Adam "Fight me then".
"Oh get lost Julian. I'm not into those games. I thought you at least knew that about me, and don't you dare hit me again".
"Stop it Adam, you like a bit of discipline. It makes you feel as though someone cares about you. Don't pretend with me".
"I do not appreciate being smacked round the head", Adam blazed angrily. He grabbed Julian's wrists and shoved him onto his back. He then sat astride him.
Julian stared up at him with a naked hunger in his eyes.
"I know what you want me to do", said Adam, tauntingly "You want me to whip my cock out right now and cram it into your mouth don't you? And pretend it's all against your will, because that's the sad little sicko you are. Shall I Julian? Or shall I do your speciality, and leave you to pant for it, so that you know what it feels like?"
"Admit how excited you are Adam", said Julian, hoarsely.
"I've got an erection, so what's the big deal? Oh of course, I forgot it is to you now".
"No, admit how good we are together. We always were. There was electricity between us".
"More like poisoned gas I would've said", said Adam "Our sex life was rotten Julian".
"Adam, you can't mean that. You're only remembering the bad times".
"Because there weren't any good ones that's why! If you take away our sniping and fighting Julian, there was nothing left. You were too busy playing your stupid games for that. Thinking you had something to prove. You were pathetic".
Adam climbed off him, stood up and ran his fingers through his hair.
"Well I must be off now", he said "I did so enjoy our little coffee-morning, but duty calls".
"You can't go like that", Julian threw himself at Adam and unbuttoned his shorts "You've got something I want Adam. And you want it too, or you wouldn't have come here today in the first place. You never could resist being undressed could you?"
Adam stood silently whilst Julian removed his clothes, occasionally dabbing light kisses on strategic parts of his body.
"You should never give up on people Adam", he said "By doing so you could miss out on an awful lot".
Kieran and Hillyard finished grooming the white stallion that had been selected by Cootie as the essential part of his act.
"You know", said Kieran "I can't in all honesty see the punters being happy with me just galloping around the ring a few times. Cootie's given me such a build-up they can't fail to be disappointed".
"Rubbish", said Hillyard, tugging hairs out of the curry-comb "I've seen the costume they've got lined up for you".
"What there is of it", Kieran muttered.
"Exactly. One sight of you in those gold satin pants and the whole audience'll go into meltdown".
"Daft eejit Hillyard, it's not even as if I've got much to show. To wear pants like that you've got to have a macho physique. And there's me looking like some stick of rock. Adam says if I get any thinner he'll have to shove the whole of me up his arse to get any pleasure! Now come on, does anyone look less like a Vanquisher of Evil to you?"
"You're cute", said Hillyard "They'll go into raptures believe me".
"They must be short of entertainment round here if they're going to get pleasure from looking at me", said Kieran "I'll go and get some hay for the horse".
Hillyard followed him into the hay-wagon. How they went from standing up to lying in the hay he could only put down to one of the great mysteries of life. He only knew that he had kissed Kieran, and Kieran had kissed him back.
"I've got no complaints about your body", said Hillyard.
Kieran responded with every bit of sap that had risen in his body, caught up entirely in the excitement of making love to someone new. Hillyard was a highly-experienced lover, and it showed in his handling of him. It was a coming-together of two sensual bodies, not the intense earthy passion he had with Adam, or the "comfy focks" he had with Joby, but something else entirely.
"What the hell is going on?" Joby screamed from the doorway.
Kieran fought his way out of the straw. Hillyard suddenly looked resigned to the inevitable.
"And don't tell me it's not what it looks like", Joby went on "Because it's exactly what it looks like. What's Hillyard, your bit on the side now is he?"
"You'd know all about bits on the side!" Kieran yelled.
"Don't try and turn it round you fucker. This has got nothing to do with Amy", Joby hauled Kieran to his feet and dragged him out of the wagon "And everything to do with you being a tart!"
"Joby, that's not fair", said Hillyard.
"You stay out of it!" Joby screamed "I'll be coming to see you later".
Adam was woken up sharply by a slap on his rump. For a moment he was disorientated, but then he remembered. He must have fallen asleep on Julian's futon, and he had no idea how long he had been there. He sat up and found Julian sitting on the end of the mattress, wearing a silk robe and smoking a cheroot.
"You certainly believe in looking the part", Adam groaned "The ageing old bounder".
"You weren't complaining a short while ago", said Julian, looking impossibly smug "I've put some coffee on. Help yourself to cigars".
"Thanks", Adam groggily reached for the box which was on the floor near him.
"Now tell me we're no good together".
"Oh for God's sake Julian!" Adam exclaimed, flicking the lighter irritably "You gave me a blow-job. Big deal. I could've got that from any cheap rent-boy on the streets".
"It doesn't matter how you insult me from now on. I know the truth. If you really hated me, or were as indifferent to me as you say you are, you wouldn't have stayed here this afternoon. That was no clinical piece of fellatio we indulged in. We were devouring each other".
"Devouring?" said Adam "I'd change your reading matter if I was you Julian. The only thing you've been devouring lately are too many purple passages".
"Your cute boys are all very well", Julian sighed "I mean, I get as distracted by a neat pair of buttocks and firm flesh as much as the next man, but at the end of the day one can't better shared experiences".
"Yes you can, if they're the kind of shared experiences we have", said Adam.
"Oh forget prison and the South of France, Adam. Good grief, all that was over 2000 years ago! We are special together".
"I don't find it as easy to forget as you. I was the one who spent five bloody awful years in the jug, and you didn't even have the decency to come and see me and tell me it was all over".
"This is getting very boring Adam".
"I'd better leave then hadn't I?" Adam stood up and grabbed his clothes "After all, I'm fully aware how much I bore you. You used to tell me often enough!"
He strode out of the tent and was instantly hit by the full glare of the scorching hot sun. Preparations were in motion all around them for the evening show, and no one took any notice of Adam standing there getting dressed. Julian followed him and pressed a bundle of cigars and some Turkish Delight into his pockets.
"There'll be more of that tomorrow afternoon", he said "Great shame you don't drink anymore, I have a rather special claret I've been saving for a special occasion, but never mind".
"I'm not coming back tomorrow", said Adam "One afternoon with you is quite enough, thank you very much".
"Oh I think you will".
"What? Just because you give me some sweets and a couple of cigars! I'm not twelve-years-old anymore Julian, neither am I desperate for a slice of the good life".
"You'll be back", Julian nudged up close to him and ran his hands suggestively over Adam's buttocks "You rather like your comfortable sessions in my tent with me during the heat of the afternoon. And it upsets me to see you living in such a hand-to-mouth way in that derelict wagon. It makes we want to whisk you away from it all".
"And offer me a riotous session with a limp penis", Adam giggled.
"I didn't notice that yours was particularly limp", Julian laughed back "You'll have to have erections to make up for the two of us".
"You poor sad old fool Jules".
"I know", Julian sighed "I suppose I am rather. Perhaps wanting you so much is a sign of advancing senility. But I'll be there for you long after those pretty boys of yours have fled the coop".
"Like the Grim Reaper", said Adam "What a depressing thought".
"I'd like to kiss you, but we appear to have an audience. That rather peculiar-looking creature over there isn't another of your little boys is it Adam?"
Adam glanced behind him and groaned. Trixie was standing next to the tent housing the dancers' dressing-room. His brow was furrowed with worry, and he was getting some astonished glances from the circus workers, who plainly didn't expect to see the Grand Lord of Pepuaah roaming about backstage on his own.
"It's really quite ugly", said Julian "And blatantly abusing the privilege of being young enough to have puppy fat".
"Jules old love, we are in the presence of royalty. That is the Grand Lord of Pepuaah no less".
"What the hell is it doing here? Shouldn't it have a bodyguard with it or a minder of some sort?"
"He has a penchant for roaming about the city alone. Likes to see how the other half lives".
"And doesn't like it at all from the filthy looks it's giving us".
"He knows I'm Patsy's consort that's why. He's probably consigning me to Vanod's level".
"Who in God's name is Vanod? Sounds like something you shove down drains".
"His consort. A nasty piece of work".
"Wouldn't we all be if we had to sleep with that out of duty! Makes you want to drown it or have it put down".
"You are an extremely vindictive old man", Adam pulled his nose playfully "I'd better go and see what he wants".
"Alright, but I shall expect you back tomorrow. Come a bit earlier and we can have lunch together. As it'll be Good Friday, what we would have called it in our time at least, I'll get Finia to fetch some fish from the market".
"And being right out here it'll probably be dodgy", said Adam "Food poisoning, the latest thing you'll give me! By bye Julian".
Trixie was practically in tears by the time Adam joined him, a fact which irritated Adam considerably.
"I thought you genuinely loved Kieran", Trixie bawled.
"I do", said Adam "Although I don't see that anything I get up to has to do with you. Now, were you looking for someone? I don't suppose you're meant to be here alone".
"I'm fully of age now", said Trixie "I can come and go as I please. I want to be an informal leader, at ease with his people. I was looking for Joby actually".
"I expect he's helping Ransey in the box-office".
"He's not there. And Ransey hasn't seen him. He got quite stroppy in fact. Said if I saw Joby I was to, as he put it, kick his arse in his direction as he was late for work".
"All part of Ransey's grand plan to turn Joby into an accountant you see. Something Patsy and I will resist happening to him with all our might. I expect he's fallen asleep and forgotten the time. I'll go and find him".
"Who was that man you were with?"
"Just someone I knew years back. I was at school with him. He's no threat to Patsy, so don't think it".
"But then I don't understand ..."
"You will, when you're a grown-up", said Adam, and he chuckled sarcastically.
"How dare you!" Kieran screamed, once he and Joby were back at the wagon "How focking dare you humiliate me like that? Dragging me across the camp like some irate Victorian father! I won't have you showing me up like that Joby. It's not on. You get too damn possessive for your own good".
"I don't think I was being unreasonable", said Joby "You were about to screw Hillyard for Christ's sake! I was hurt".
"Will you stop seeing everybody as a threat to you! They're not. Hillyard and me were just having a bit of fun".
"Why do you need him for fun, when you've got me and Adam?"
"Because I was turned on that's why, I enjoy his company. No other reason".
"And I just have to accept that do I?" Joby cried "Let you have your own way in everything? Sometimes I wonder why you want to be with me at all".
"So do I!" Kieran snapped.
Joby let out a cry of rage, and shook Kieran as though he was a wet duster. Kieran managed to push him away, and Joby fell against the bunks in a fit of sobbing.
Adam had heard the raised voices from outside, and told Trixie to stay where he was. He entered the wagon alone to find Joby sobbing, and Kieran panting with anger.
"What have you done to make Joby cry, Patsy?"
"Don't you start on me", Kieran spat "I know where you've been this afternoon, so you can't judge me".
"You've upset Joby, that's all that concerns me. What have you been doing? Who have you been exerting your charms on?"
"It was Hillyard that's all", said Kieran "We got carried away, and were having fun, which is more than I get from you two at times".
Adam swiped Kieran across the nose, causing it to bleed instantly. Joby gave a wail of anguish and instantly jumped to Kieran's aid.
"It's alright Adam", said Joby "I know he doesn't mean everything he says. He's probably getting a bit overwrought about the show on Saturday night".
"He doesn't deserve a friend like you Joby", said Adam "You'd better clear off now. Ransey's breathing fire in the box-office apparently".
"Joby!" Kieran cried, and planted a smacking wet kiss on his cheek "I'm sorry darlin', I'll make it up to you".
"P-Perhaps I'd better stay and help you clean your nose up", said Joby.
"I'll do that", said Adam "You get off now".
Joby was waylaid by Trixie at the bottom of the steps, but said he had no time to stop. Trixie grabbed his elbow in passing.
"Can I come and see you?" he babbled "I'm coming to the Gala Show on Saturday night. Can I pop round and see you afterwards when you come off duty?"
"Please Joby", said Trixie "I need a friend, and you're the only genuine one I've got".
"Are you in trouble of some kind?"
"It's hard to explain here. Please let me see you".
"Alright, I'll try and get away from Ransey a bit earlier than usual".
"You're very kind".
Trixie watched wistfully as Joby walked away over the yellow grass, stepping over the thick hoses that had been used to swill down the animals. He was startled by Lonts suddenly appearing out of nowhere, and plonking himself down on the wagon steps.
"I know how you feel", said Lonts "I'm not having a good day either. One of the dogs nipped me earlier, and then Cootie asked to see me but I couldn't find his wagon, even though everyone kept giving me directions. I hope he isn't too annoyed with me. Do you think he will be?"
"Are you a virgin Lonts?" said Trixie.
"What are you talking about Trixie?" said Lonts, looking confused.
"It doesn't matter", Trixie sighed.
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