This week’s challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com is to build a story around one or more of the words victory, water or x-ray. I thought I'd explore further some of the characters I introduced in the Voice Week challenge
Finlay was not a happy camper. I had told him that I had arranged a camping weekend for us and a group of friends; a kind of male bonding weekend; like a stag weekend, but without the wedding afterwards.
“You told me we would be going camping this weekend,” he complained, “where are our tents, sleeping bags, camping stoves and survival kits? And why on Earth are you dressed like that?”
“No, silly,” I replied, “not a camping weekend; a camping weekend.”
“What’s the difference?”, he asked.
“What’s the difference? What’s the difference?” I mocked, “I’ll tell you what the difference is, oh brother of mine. The difference is that on a camping weekend, you go into the smelly countryside, probably next to a river or a lake, ‘cause people like to go into the water, although quite why has always been a mystery to me, it’s not like proper water that you put in your bath, it’s dirty and smelly and things live in it and I’ve even heard that fish do their business in it; you then put up your little tent and you live like a refugee for the weekend and pretend to like it, before rushing home for a bath, some decent food and a proper bed for the night. On a camping weekend, you dress up all glam, hit the best night spots and generally camp it up. See?”
“And what makes you think that a weekend poncing about like some kind of deviant would possibly appeal to me?”
“Because you need to let your inner glam queen out occasionally. We all do.”
Finlay suddenly turned all serious and butch on me. He looked me straight in the eye with that steely gaze he reserves for when he’s really cross. “I do not have an inner glam queen or any other kind of persona that needs to be let out, Julian. And even if I did—”
“So you admit the possibility that you might?”
“No, I do not,” he replied, in a measured, even tone. He’s at his most scary when he does that. “And even if I did, Julian, which I don’t, how would it look for a senior officer of Her Majesty’s army to be seen cavorting around, dressed like goodness-only-knows-what, with a bunch of nancy-boys? Tell me that, if you can.”
“Firstly, let me say that I object to your use of words like poncing, deviants and nancy-boys.”
“And I object strongly to your entire premise that I would be comfortable carrying on like this with you and your… chums.”
“And secondly, if it’s alright for senior members of Her Majesty’s Royal Family to dress up occasionally, why is it not for her soldiers to do it just the once? Come to think of it, he was a soldier; an officer; too.”
“Okay, Fin. Truth be told, I wanted you to be there with us to make sure there wasn’t any trouble. We get a lot of stick from some of the local ruffians, and I don’t think that would happen if you were there; you being all butch and masculine and everything.”
I wondered if Fin knew how much I was clutching at straws then.
Finlay had the look about him of a man who was thinking, and thinking hard. Finally, he spoke again, his tone more conciliatory, “Okay, I’ll come with you—”
I clapped my hands with glee and jumped up and down, “Goodeeeee! Thanks, Fin; you won’t regret it, I promise.”
“God, I’m regretting it already. Let me finish, Julian,” he interrupted, “I will come with you, and I will keep an eye on you. However, I will not be a part of whatever it is you’re doing. I will sit in the corner of whatever club or restaurant you are using. You will not talk to me or even acknowledge me. As far as anyone is concerned, I will be a man on his own. If there is any trouble, or if you expect trouble, ring my phone. Although I’ll be close by, I’m not going to spend the weekend watching you like some kind of stalker, neither do I have x-ray eyes, so I won’t necessarily see if things heat up. I won’t answer my phone when you ring it, but I will approach your group and assess the situation. If I think my intervention is needed, I will act. Deal?”
It wasn’t what I wanted; I so wanted to get Fin out of his shell and having some fun. Poor guy, since his Dutch wife Saskia left him for another woman a couple of years ago, his life has consisted only of work and bringing up their daughter Polly. His male ego was badly damaged when he found that his wife of fifteen years had turned, and now he’s over-compensating in all sorts of ways. He desperately needs to get out of himself. That’s why I set up this weekend, and arranged for Polly to stay with Mum. I suppose his coming along at all is a bit of a victory for me; and he will be very useful if there is any trouble. I mean, the man is so buff, so butch, so manly!
“Deal!” I said, spitting on my hand and offering it to him. He rejected it, of course.
“One thing you will learn this weekend,” I added, “is that camp and gay are not the same thing. You can’t always assume someone’s sexuality from their behaviour.”
“I know that,” he said, sadly, “let’s go.”