Friday, December 25, 2015

Sealark ~ December

Sea lark


They spent some days drawing up their planning onto a small write on/wipe off board that Dare pulled out of their luggage, that they’d always used in the days and weeks when prepping for a race. It was a familiar sight; they were used to pulling together a framework around the unmeasurable, the randoms like weather and speed, and still having a practical plan, and initially laying in bed together with the pens to draft it, and then hours spent over the next few days revising it and discussing it and working out variables with Jamie having input and making suggestions, they ended up with a schedule that ended up in the kitchen on the wall. Embodied in the board was an acceptance that this was …. Well. Permanent. Time off for good behaviour was not something his body was going to accommodate.

It took him three days after Ian’s visit to get back to his current ‘normal’. But Jamie came several times a week and worked with him, and Dare saw what Jamie did over the next few weeks to help him start to build back up muscle tone and to keep the shape of the body Jonah was used to, as well as to raise his stamina. Most visits now they ostensibly took Poppet for a walk together and chatted, but Jamie picked his route carefully and Dare saw him gradually and skilfully extending the distance, the challenge in the terrain, getting him on less even ground, slopes and banks, climbing stiles to get onto the water way footpaths, and all of it pushed Jonah’s strength and mobility. There was no longer a visible difference between his once casted leg and the other one and he was moving increasingly confidently and easily, the pelvis and thigh were healing very well. Being upright was no longer the drain on him it had been, his body was learning again to accommodate it, and he was slowly but steadily handling more in the periods between those scheduled rests. Their first successful meal out together at The Swan was a victory. Shopping together in the village was another victory. They were having to learn to prioritise and structure the challenges; going for a meal meant going straight there, eating and going straight home in order for it to be successful, and not including a quick stroll around the village or dropping into a shop where the two minutes spent standing in a queue at a till could drain Jonah’s energy too far. Going shopping meant visiting a planned, specific couple of shops only and not browsing or going to look at the boats or dropping into the coffee shop too, and Dare learned fast to be clear and very firm about the boundaries. It didn’t come naturally, it was a different way of doing things and it wasn’t easy, it took adjusting to and occasionally they made mistakes that Jonah paid for, but it worked. And Jonah, while frustrated by it at times, had kept that shift of perspective he had made during Ian’s visit. He could see it working and he was invested with Dare in keeping it working and solving the practical problems with the same determination with which he used to solve practical problems with a boat or a planned race. 

The rest periods were the price of this, and although they were steadily pushing the time they went to bed to be later and later until it was approaching a more normal hour, they stuck to the rest periods rigidly.

“The time is going to come,” Jamie said when they were redeveloping the white board schedule which was evolving around those rest periods and Jonah growled about them staying in place, “When we start shrinking these down and see how much you can let go and still manage the same level of activity. We’ll shorten one rest down, we’ll try eventually cutting one out altogether, and so on. It’s finding where the balance point is. If you catch a cold or you’re ill or you have a bad patch you’ll have to plan reinstate it for a bit to stabilise yourself again but it’s finding your equilibrium point. This is going to be a very different way of life and you have to learn to go with the flow.”

“You have no idea,” Jonah said irritably, “How bloody annoying it is to be in the middle of something and feeling fine and have to stop to lay down.”

“I think it’s a whole lot easier for you the way you and Dare do it that you have your time and it happens at that time come hell or high water.” Jamie said without sympathy. “Much easier for you than just trying to judge when you’re starting to get tired, I know you. When you’re interested in something you won’t want to pay attention to the warning signs, you’ll want to finish. Everything. Much better you have the habit of ‘it’s eleven am, the world stops for an hour’.”

“And lay and do nothing because otherwise you’ll nag my head off about ‘proper neurological rest’.” Jonah said, without much heat since Jamie only ever laughed when Jonah stormed at him. In fact he liked Jamie more than Dare had seen him like many people, and as long as he had known Jonah he had had hundreds of acquaintances and people who liked him but beyond Dare himself, no real friends he let close to him, particularly not gay friends.

“I will.” Jamie said unblushingly. “Deservedly so. And don’t tell me you’re bored, I’ve seen you outside in the rain – I still think you’re mad – for an hour watching the water and the birds without moving and you’re not in the least bored. You don’t like the idea of having to it and you don’t like the restriction but you’re one of the easiest people to entertain I’ve ever met. This is what you two use the Sealark for isn’t it? You can lay down in comfort and have a total change of scenery any time you want it, be in the really wild bits you like – yes I’ve seen you hanging out on Sutton Broad, that one’s gorgeous – and Dare can click his camera to his heart’s content. What do you do with all these pictures, Dare?”

“He catalogues them occasionally.” Jonah said, looking across to him. “Fills up memory sticks. We sit and look through them every so often. Puts them on the laptop, although we’ve got no internet access here.”

“Why not?” Jamie asked him. Jonah shrugged.

“I don’t know. I suppose we don’t know how long we’re staying for.”

“But you bought the cottage, didn’t you?”

“Yes, we bought it.” Dare confirmed. “It’s part of the Odham Hall estate and it’s on the estate documents, there are restrictions – we can only re sell through them and it’s a listed building – not that we’d mess with it anyway. But yes, it’s ours.”

“Then you might want to start making it look like you live here?” Jamie pointed out. “How can you feel settled when there’s hardly anything of yours here other than your clothes? You’re treating it as a holiday rental.”

Jonah shook his head. “You’re a bossy little sod, you never stop.”

“You need a lot of bossing.” Jamie blew him a kiss and got up to put his coat on. “And you can always tell tales to Mick about me, which reminds me. If you two aren’t doing anything tomorrow evening, come have dinner with us at The Swan. Tim Dunkley will be there, and as the only five gays in the village I feel strongly that we need to stick together.”

“Dunkley is?” Jonah demanded. Jamie gave him a wry nod.

“Oh he is. Although his complete bastard of a partner did a runner about ten years ago – so I hear, I was still at school at the time – taking pretty much everything in their bank accounts with him. Tim’s been single ever since, poor love. Although the job he does and the hours he works in a backwater like this he doesn’t get a lot of chance to meet anyone. We drag him to dinner monthly and at least then he has some social time where he can be himself. Meet us in the bar at five thirty?”

The Swan was decked out in Christmas decorations and lights that skimmed her beams and gabled roofs and the trees in the water front garden, and greenery garlands hung along her walls under the windows. Along with the large village Christmas tree on the green, the lights along the little main street and the displays in the shop windows, the village looked even more like a picture postcard than usual.

They came down by Sealark. Mooring being easier than finding parking nearby, and Dare having prepared for Jonah if necessary to walk onto the boat, go directly to bed – which he had made up in the cabin – and for them to sleep the night in the mooring. Apart from it obviously being more fun to travel by boat anywhere around here. Jonah moored her on the quay directly outside The Swan and they walked with Poppet up through the garden to The Swan front door.

It was a dog friendly inn; there were several dogs laying under tables and Poppet regally ignored them with a tennis ball in her mouth, walking close to Jonah as they made their way through the crowd in the bar. It was busy tonight. Christmas music was playing over the speakers, although blessedly quietly, and large fires were roaring in the several hearths. Jamie waved from a table in the front bay window, one of the quieter tables that was surrounded by armchairs rather than upright chairs. Being the landlord, Mick had clearly appropriated what he wanted. The doctor, Tim Dunkley, was relaxed in one of the armchairs with a pint in his hand, and Dare went to the bar to collect drinks for himself and Jonah while Jonah took one of the armchairs at the table and accepted Jamie’s hug as Poppet lay down beside him.

“Hi! You sailed up? You found the navigation lights you wanted for the Sealark?”

“Yes, the boatyard had them to hand and fitted them there and then. They don’t usually let their hire craft do night cruising but we talked them into it.” Jonah leaned over to take Mick’s offered hand. “Hello. Thanks for the recommendation, Sealark’s a good little tub and it’s a good boatyard.”

“They’re the ones helping out with my boat.” Dunkley agreed. “Historical renovation of boats is one of their specialties, they’ve worked on the couple of living museum Wherries around the broads.”

“I’ve seen one or two go by.” Jonah agreed as Dare came back to the table with two pints in hand. “Magnificent things.”

“How is the work going on your boat?” Dare asked, taking a seat beside Jonah. Dunkley grimaced.

“I was hoping to take her out for a first trial run this weekend but I've run into a problem with the new mast. I was backing out one of the machine screws from a spreader end plate and the head sheared right off. I’m going to have to take the spreader up to Stalham and get them to weld a new end on if they can – its low season, I’ll be lucky if they can do much with it this side of Christmas and I was hoping to join the Santa race week after next.”

Dare winced, thinking of the numerous mast and rigging issues they’d handled over the years but Jonah spoke up beside him.

“You can drill it out and retap it, you just need a good quality small drill bit. I’ve done that before now. If you don’t have the right bit I can write down for you what you need, any shop selling decent tools will have it, and I’ll come show you if you like.”

Dunkley gave him a look like the sun coming out over his pint. “I'd love for you to.  Thankyou.”

“What’s the Santa Race?” Dare asked. Jamie grinned.

“An unofficial yacht club fixture. All the yacht clubs on the broads hold open events through the year but this is a quiet local one usually, family stuff rather than a serious competition. Only boats under sail can take part, they leave Wroxham Broad at 9am Christmas Eve, have to circle a set up Santa boat and collect a ticket from it at Salhouse, Ranworth, South Walsham and Barton Broads and then go back again through all five to finish at Wroxham and present all ten tickets to get their time recorded. A lot of people go out on their boats to watch, the morning is a bit more proper sailing but in the afternoon as they’re coming back there’s fundraising, bands or carol singers out on the staithes, it’s usually good fun and the pub then heaves all evening, it’s more or less a village party. We’ll be going to cheer on Tim, we usually take a spot on Barton Broad for the afternoon and watch with mince pies and the good coffee. Bring Sealark out and come and join us, it’s our day off before the madness of serving Christmas lunch here in the restaurant all Christmas Day. We’re always booked up solid – and you two are coming here for lunch, aren’t you?”

Dunkley gave them a brief grin. “Say yes, it’s quicker. I’ve never got away with it, I get made to turn out to lunch here too on the day. It’s good.”

“It is, the chef’s great.” Mick said peaceably, passing Jonah and Dare the large restaurant menus. “What are you having this evening?”

“Did you rest up this afternoon?” Jamie demanded of Jonah who looked skyward.

“Yes, Dad. I budgeted so I could sit here long enough to enjoy it.”

“Then what are you having? I plan on having the pheasant, I saw what the chef was doing with it and it looks amazing.”

“I haven't had that before.” Dare said thoughtfully, looking at the specials list. “Worth it?”

Mick nodded confirmation “Fantastic. It’s local meat, we can’t always get it.”

“Then I'll trust your judgement and try that.”

“Me too.” Jonah added, handing his menu back.

Dare and Mick got up together to go to the bar and place the order. Jamie picked up his drink and surveyed Jonah.

“You do look pretty good today. You're getting the hang of this. Dare helping?”

“Yes, of course.  He can't not help.” Jonah added, and not critically either. Jamie nodded comprehension, smiling.

“I’ve noticed. You've got a good one there.”

“Yes, I got lucky.  Twice.”

“He's your second partner?” Dunkley asked. Jonah shook his head.

“No, Dare’s been my one and only in that way. I meant I was lucky I found him before the accident and lucky now he’s stuck with me despite what I’ve been putting him through. He rises to the challenge, Dare. Thank God.”

“You've both been through a lot.” Dunkley said with rough sympathy. “It can't be easy partnering a yacht racer, you were both on your own for weeks at a time. Is it hard being together this much?”

Jonah reflected for a moment, slightly surprised when he thought about it. “…No. It hasn’t been at all. I suppose we were always together a lot, we travelled together, he came with me to the marinas and worked around the race schedule, and when I was on the water training or out on a race I was busy all the time. There was very little time I was ever away from Dare without being too busy with work to think, so the time we had together always has been together. And he’s always fine with me sitting out on deck for an hour or going off down the garden, he’s always understood about me wanting time alone. He’s a bit the same way himself.”

Dunkley nodded slowly, with compassion and with interest. “I'm sorry to pry. After the articles I read… that must be an exciting life to let go of.”

“It was an exciting life.” Jonah said frankly. “I loved it. I started racing when I was nine, my parents were yachters when they were alive and I was out on boats with them before I could walk, I was solo racing all through my teens, and then I had all the boats I designed and raced myself. Not sure I would have been able to get as far as we did in the end without Dare. He’s always been good for me. Yes he’s bloody gorgeous, but he’s good for me too. He thinks things through more than I do, he makes me keep my feet on the ground and won’t take the nonsense, I wouldn’t have won half of what I did without him. I just have to work hard on remembering that I lived all that, all the things Dare and I got to do, and this is …. sort of bonus time now. Even if it won’t be the same quality it’s still a lot more than I ever thought I’d get when the catamaran came apart.”

In those hours in the water – what little he remembered of them – the determination had been for anything. Anything at all, any moment more with Dare.

“It will be the same quality.” Jamie said firmly. “Of course it will. It's different. It's very different. It’s no fun to have to let go of what you were used to and start again. But you make it about living as much as you ever did, you find out different things to do together, different opportunities. Different, not worse.”

His tactless directness always helped. Jonah glanced up at him, managing a brief smile but freed a hand from his pint to find and squeeze his hand for a moment in the best he managed at the moment in the way of thank you – and he owed Jamie a lot of them.

Dare and Mick were threading their way back through the crowd towards them and Jamie followed Dunkley’s eyes towards them, then his gaze sharpened as he saw through the window behind them that led down into the waterfront garden.

“That's Edward mooring up! What's he doing up here at this time of night?”

“Edward Grey?” Dunkley said with interest. “He’s a long way from home after dark.”

“He’s got something wrapped around his hand.” Jamie was gone in a flash, dodging through the crowd with the ease of long practice. He was back a moment later with the bar’s first aid kit in his hand and the river police officer in the other, who looked fed up in his heavy police waterproof jacket and had a makeshift wrap of what looked like an engine oil rag around his hand which was well bloodied. Dunkley pulled up a chair beside him, indicating for the man to sit down and starting to unwrap his hand.

“What have you done?”

“Trying to tow another abandoned day boat in the dark and got my hand caught between it and my boat.” The man said sourly. “It’s been that kind of a day.”

“Stay and eat, and then I’ll drive you home.” Mick said succinctly, leaning on the back of his chair to watch. “You can’t sail all the way to Potter Heigham in the dark with that at this time of night. Where did you find the boat?”

“Abandoned at Salhouse Broad. In the middle of nowhere again. It’s like they get off and vanish into thin air. Hello again.” He added to Dare.

“Dare Brody and Jonah Trevelyan,” Mick said, waving a hand between them. “This is Edward Grey, he’s our local Broadsbeat river inspector. River branch of the local police.”

“We met while I was chasing another nicked day boat the other day.” Edward winced as Dunkley cleaned out several wide, bleeding grazes that covered most of the back of his hand.

“Sorry.” Dunkley told him, “I don’t think you’ve crushed anything, just scraped yourself up well. Don’t you use fenders?”

“Yes, but the bloody day boat is so low it slides in underneath them. That’s the third I’ve retrieved this week.”

“Where are they getting them from?” Mick asked. “All the big hire centres are locked up.”

“Everywhere.” Edward said expressively. “It’s never the same yard more than one night running, and with all the smaller yards closed for the winter I’ll bet plenty of thefts haven’t even been noticed yet. The boat gets taken, occasionally someone sees a boat empty apart from a few men speeding past in the early morning and then I find it dumped somewhere at a staithe. We’re used to equipment and fuel being stolen during the winter, but from some of the grass and oil and bits left in some of the boats I think it ties up with some burglaries our land team’s been investigating in the area. Boathouses and garages broken into, tools, parts and fixtures being pinched, all metal. I think they use the day boat to store it somewhere for later pick up and then randomly dump the boat in a different place.”  

“That was what we saw when they shot past us?” Dare asked him. “Taking the boat somewhere to abandon it.”

“Yes. Somewhere not too close to where things got dumped.”

One of the waitresses came over with a tray and started handing out plates. Mick gave her a quick nod across the table. “Would you plate up another one for me Katie, bring me a scotch and set another place? Edward’s staying.”

From the smile the waitress gave Edward he was a known face in here. Dunkley finished cleaning Edward’s hand and re packed the first aid kit.

“You’re done. It’ll heal quicker uncovered if you don’t get muck and water on it.”

“Thanks.” Edward flexed his fingers cautiously and accepted the scotch and the plate the waitress brought him, joining them as they started on their dinner. The pheasant was spiced and delicious if you could tear yourself away from the dauphinoise potatoes and the Christmas spiced red cabbage.

“This is great.” Dare said with appreciation. “I agree with you about your chef.”

Edward nodded with his mouthful, starting to look a lot more relaxed. “He’s a gem. I’ve seen you two around a lot with your Sealark. New to the area?”

“We bought Eel Cottage on the Odham estate.”

“Jonah’s a boat designer.” Jamie informed him, and nodded with satisfaction as Edward looked up. “Yes, I thought that would grab you. British Silver in the Olympics three years ago?”

“That’s you?” Edward demanded. “Wow. Nice to meet you.”

“Edward’s another keen sailor,” Mick supplied to Jonah. “And another yacht club member when he’s not in his police capacity. Law and order on the water, look out for him with a speed gun in his hands.”

“What do you do?” Edward asked Dare. Dare pulled the Nikon out of his pocket and held it up.

“Photographer. Although I’m not working at the moment.”

“You said you could look at the pictures on screen?” Jamie asked. “May I see?”

Dare turned on the play back and handed it to him, and Mick and Edward leaned together to look with Jamie as he scrolled through. They were casually interested for the first few, then Jonah saw them get more intent and they sat in silence for several minutes, scrolling through.

“Dare, these are gorgeous.” Jamie said soberly, looking up. “You’re a serious wildlife photographer, the series with the grebe fishing is beautiful – and the different weathers and lights on the landscape.”

“And the boats.” Edward leaned further to see one from another angle. “You do know the Broads Authority would like to see these? They have a few local photographers they use and they prefer using local ones who actually know and like the area – all the tourist postcard pictures, calendars, books, tourist information booklets, wildlife pictures, education materials, museum display pictures, signage and information boards – the lot of it comes from them, and that’s before you get into the photographers needed for the conservation records and picture documenting progress with conservation or restoration projects, bank erosion records, wildlife population, breeding and migration evidence, water levels… there’s tons of it they have to collect pictures for, the work’s there all the time. If you’re wanting work I’ll be glad to pass your name along to the head office.”

“Yes. Please.”

“This one is Jonah?” Jamie sounded distressed. “This must have been Bristol hospital?”

Dare glanced at Jonah and reached for the camera.

“Yes. Those are a bit private-”

“It’s ok.” Jonah gently took the camera from him as Jamie handed it over. The body on the bed in the picture was not recognisable as anyone in particular. Tubes from each orifice, machines all around it. It didn’t look or feel like him. Dare looked with him at the picture and under the table Jonah felt his hand close over his and squeeze. There it was on the camera screen. The turning point. The moment. The end of one time and the beginning of another.

That was me?  The picture shows someone as white as the bedsheets, hooked to all manner of hospital stuff, like they were afraid the person would get up and walk out if not held down by all the wires and tubes and leads.  Me, alone, near death.  But I was never alone. That was Dare on the other side of the camera.  I’m even further from being alone now, surrounded by people.  People that met me at my worst, who understand the limitations, know what are tiny triumphs and what shouldn’t – shouldn’t - be shameful.  Friends we didn’t have before.


Their expeditions grew longer as Jonah’s stamina grew further. They spent an afternoon looking around the Broads museum in Stalham where Jonah was fascinated by the photographs and the preserved boats, and they went back several times in the next few weeks for another look around. The biggest test of their progress was going into Wroxham Christmas shopping one morning in mid December.

The largest village on the Broads – nearer a small town – it sat directly on Wroxham bridge and they sailed there one evening, moored in the nearby Wroxham Broad overnight, and then covered the last fifteen minutes to the moorings by the bridge itself.

Christmas lights were everywhere. The bridge was lit with them, more overhung the high street beyond the bridge, and the hotels and shops and holiday apartments that lined the river were decked out and had Christmas trees in sight in the gardens. Dare had insisted they brought the wheelchair and Jonah, while not thrilled, accepted it as the price of getting to browse shops and take a proper look around. Dare unfolded it on the staithe and Jonah, with only a faint wince and a glance around to see no one was looking, closed the saloon door with a slightly indignant Poppet inside, locked the boat and got into the chair. Only a few feet from the staithe was the high street itself; boating and the waterway was an integral part of this town and its life, and many visitors arrived and left by boat. Some enterprising man years ago had opened a department store in Wroxham, and bit by bit it had spread until Roys of Wroxham covered over half the high street. A large department store, clothing outlets, toy shop, a large supermarket, a garden centre – all of it under the same banner. A Salvation Army band in full uniform were playing carols on the street outside.

The department store was an Aladdin’s Cave of all kinds of oddments, they spent a while enjoying exploring. There was no difficulty in finding multiple options for presents for Ian, his wife and his daughters, the greater difficulty was deciding between them. A large bottle of port was the best option for Dr Dunkley; Jamie and Mick were harder.

On the upper floor Dare paused in the extensive bedding section. “Jone? What do you think of those cushions?”

“Are we scatter cushion people?” Jonah teased him. “Since when?”

“Since we started needing to be comfortable? We’re not going to want pillows in the living room for ever and Jamie’s got a point. We’re going to be here a while.”

“….How long?” Jonah said rather more quietly. Dare leaned on the back of the wheelchair, looking down at him.

“I don’t know. As long as we feel like being here I suppose.”

“You don’t want to move on?”

“I like it here. I like the people, I like the waterways. I like the cottage. But there are other places we can go if you find it too small?”

“No.” Jonah said with conviction and he was starting to smile. “No, it’s not too small. I like it here too.”

Dare stooped to kiss him, picked up the pillows and with some reflection picked up a matching thick rug too.

“You know something else? I think we should choose a tv.”

That took a while longer and Dare made the arrangements to have their chosen tv and dvd player delivered to the cottage.

In the photography section downstairs Jonah abruptly twisted around in the chair to find Dare.

“Got your camera?”

Dare pulled it out of his pocket. Jonah nodded at the board over the counter.

“Why don’t we choose some of your local pictures and have them blown up and frame for Mick and Jamie? Something for the pub. You took several of The Swan frontage, they’d like that. They love that place.”

In the end they chose three for Mick and Jamie; one of The Swan and two of the river nearby, one a twilight shot and another of a Wherry passing by. They chose five more to be framed for the cottage. And in the large department downstairs selling Christmas decorations Dare drew Jonah to a halt.

“We’ve not had a place of our own at Christmas before.”

They had never stayed anywhere more than a few months. Christmas was usually spent in apartments, hotels, at sponsors Christmas events and sometimes with Ian and his family.

“I think we need to do it for ourselves. A tree. Decorations. A wreath for the door. Let’s do this properly.”

Jonah shook his head at him, laughing. “You’re enjoying this.”

They decorated the house together, which involved pulling Poppet’s nose out of every box, bag and container first, and having to stop regularly to find one of her beloved tennis balls to swap her for the several baubles and sprigs of greenery that she had taken away to play with. The real tree in the corner of the living room scented the whole of the downstairs, covered in the purple and gold ornaments they had chosen. A garland lay over the mantelpiece above the fire and another along the windowsill of the living room, a wreath was hooked on the front door. It looked remarkably…. Cosy was the word Jonah had in mind as he lay on the couch that afternoon, on the scatter cushions which looked less medicinal and more homely than the pillows had.


The afternoon before Christmas Eve Dunkley’s yacht sailed slowly and gracefully up to the moorings at Eel Cottage staithe, and Dare came over to catch the rope Dunkley threw him. The varnish was gleaming, newly dry, and her immaculate sails belied the fact that she was such a venerable old lady.

“She looks beautiful!” Dare called. “Did you Christen her before her launch?”

“I did.” Dunkley said not without some pride. “She got a glass of best scotch against her hull.”

“How is the mast now? May I see?” Jonah came to admire her and Dunkley held out a hand to help him aboard.

“Come on up. You fixed it, I’ve had no trouble since.”

Mick and Jamie brought their powered boat to the staithe and Jamie jumped down to tie her up.

“Hi Dare. Hey you have lights in the garden!”

“We’re doing it properly this year.” Dare said apologetically. “Or we’re having a go, we’ve never done this before.”

“Bright and twinkly is good.” Jamie kissed his cheek in hello and leaned against Mick as he was shivering slightly. “That yacht is gorgeous. Tim’s been raving about Jonah’s suggestions and him sorting out the spreader. The guy from the boatyard was quite struck with him too.”

“We enjoyed ourselves. We got shown all round their yard, including their building sheds.”

“Jonah was ok with that?” Jamie asked him. Dare nodded.

“He was a little quiet. But interested. Their river boats are very different to the Southampton yacht builders, it’s a different ball game. The boatyard guy knew of him and knew the catamaran and he shared some of their designs, wanted his opinion and made it clear Jone was welcome to visit - and it’s his normal work ground for Jone. After the first shock he got straight into it.”

Given a few months Dare actually wondered if Jonah would look for work there or in one of the many boatyards in the area that built, maintained and hired out the Broads crafts of all kinds. Practical and adaptable: those had always been strengths of Jonah’s, plus the energy and charm when something excited him. The glimmers in the boat shed had certainly charmed the yard crew.

“I’ll bring the coffee into the garden,” Dare said as Jamie went to admire Dunkley’s yacht. Mick grinned.

“Typical sailing fraternity: it’s December and here we are standing freezing our nuts off outside with the boats. I’ll help you.”

“Dare!” Jonah called from the yacht deck. “Tim’s going to take her out around the broad, we’ll be half an hour – ok?”

His hair was on end and blowing wild in the December breeze that would make a sailed boat fly today, his face was reddened with cold and in his gloves and jacket against the grey water and the white sail he looked lively and happy ….and stunning. It would have been impossible to say no to him in that moment. Jamie cut in, calling from the deck.

“I’ll watch him like a hawk Dare, I won’t let him do anything heavy or get too tired.”

“Good luck with that!” Dare called back to him but waved. “Don’t be too long.”

The sails filled as soon as Dunkley raised them, Jamie loosed the rope and coiled it, stepping aboard, and the yacht sailed up river with Jonah sitting on her deck. Dare watched him go, wondering how this first was feeling to him, sails open, the boat alive beneath him – but he was laughing at something Jamie was saying and Jamie came to sit beside him, and not for the first time Dare reflected that there was the relief of no secrets with these people. The emerging friendship was an honest one and they knew only Jonah and Dare of now, today, not who they had been before the accident. Jonah had no need to act in front of Jamie or Dunkley, or Mick by extension, and he could relax around them.

Dunkley took his elderly lady the Edie May out into the space of Barton Broad where no other boat was in sight at this time of late afternoon, and for twenty minutes they flew her where the wind was strongest, letting her stretch her sails. It was well into twilight when they ducked to let the boom go over and with her lights lit, Dunkley turned the tiller back into the river Ant, sailing her down through the gathering dark. The cottage Christmas lights were just visible from the river, needed on a cloudy night when it would ordinarily take effort to see the staithe. But along the wooden boards, stood in a line …… Jamie made a soft little ‘oh’ sound as he saw it and Jonah’s breath caught. A line of candles in jars were lit waiting for them along the dock and flickering in the dark.  


They took the prepared and well rationed Sealark out that evening after the Edie May and the Swanning About headed home together, went the brief fifteen minutes up river and moored out on the dark silence of Barton Broad, intending to be in position and ready in the morning for a day spent watching the race.

Jonah, sprawled out on the bed which Dare had made up before they left the staithe, listened to the steady, comfortable chugging of her engine as she made her way up river, and Dare glanced over at him, giving him a quick smile.

“She’s not quite what the Edie May is.”

“She’s lovely.” Jonah said reflectively. And those moments had been lovely, to be on a flying craft again and hear and feel the sails move. But there had been no pang getting aboard the Sealark this evening. Her cabin lights were soft, gentle light in the darkness, the bunk was comfortable and her now so familiar throbbing engine was like a heartbeat. His graceful, sharp racing yachts had been living things in his hands, they had responded to his touch with the call of a musical instrument, responsive, he would always remember how that had felt. It had been him against the water, working alone with his craft. The Sealark … her rotund, blunt bow was neither graceful nor sleek. But she was warm, she was steady, she was comfortable and she was theirs in a way no yacht had ever been. She was designed as a boat to be lived in and not survived on, a place it was perfectly comfortable to lounge to read together, to lay in bed and doze, to watch the world from her deck. Somewhere he had come to love this chunky, chuggy little tub and the gentle, slow waters she sailed on.

Sealark is one of the old girls of the boatyard fleet, isn’t she?” he said to Dare, who nodded.

“Yes. I don’t think they keep the hire boats for more than a set number of seasons before they sell them on. Insurance reasons probably.”

Like the house… it meant commitment. A long term future here. And a future here was beginning to open up, and it was a rather comfortable, peaceful one. Jonah swallowed and said it lightly enough for Dare to refuse if he wanted to.

“Think they’d take an offer for her? She’d be worth making it an offer they’d be daft to refuse.”  

Dare glanced back at him and the smile he shot Jonah was a very private and a very warm one.

“We’ll ring them on Monday.”

Out on the broad Dare went out to drop the mudweight, checking her position. He had moved her into the lee of the bank, still out in open water where she would swing around on the mudweight all night as the water changed direction with the tides, but sheltered. His breath misted in front of him as he came back down the cabin steps, locking the canopy behind him. The low cabin light was all that was on now, Poppet was asleep at the foot of the bed and Jonah had pushed the quilt back. He was naked. Long and lean and his shaggy golden hair in his eyes, and there wasn’t much missing the expression in them. Dare stood where he was for a moment, somewhat lost in the view. Then as Jonah reached for him to help him out of his trousers, he pulled his coat off, pulled his sweater and shirt off over his head and let Jonah deal with the buttons.

Sprawled out on the covers, somewhat sweat slicked, breathless and with the cabin somewhat steamed up… they dozed for a while until the night air grew cold enough to make them take sanctuary under the covers, and they fell asleep to the gentle movement of the boat on the water and the call of the birds and Poppet still snoring softly at the end of the bed. It was damn cold tonight, the chill rose up off the water and they were grateful for the cabin heating as well as the thick blankets and the hot water bottles that Dare took into the bunk with them.

It was somewhere near dawn that Dare felt Jonah stir and reached over to his side of the bed, sleepily surfacing. But his hand found Jonah gone altogether, and when he half sat up, Jonah’s voice said softly,

“Shh. Listen.”

He was over by the saloon door. Poppet had her head up and was listening intently to something and concentrating, Dare could just about make it out. The high motorcycle engine sound of a little day boat. It was a long way off, but coming closer. Dare grabbed a sweater from the end of the bed and shouldered into it, handing Jonah the other one. They had gone to bed in sweats and socks as a result of the cold and Dare was grateful as Jonah slid the door open as quietly as possible.

It was still mostly dark, cloudy with very little visibility but torch beams were on the water a long way off. She was coming at quite a lick, well above the river speed limit, shooting out of the entrance to the river Ant, and Poppet, who had jumped down to the cabin floor to join them, growled softly. Dare scooped her up and put a hand on her muzzle, hushing her. Voices were audible across the water, men’s voices. On a night like this sound would travel a long way. The boat passed fairly near them, probably within sixty feet, and Dare wondered if the Sealark was visible in the darkness.

“She’s going up there.” Jonah breathed. “One of the private dykes, third to the left.”

Many large, expensive houses – most of them Victorian age or older and several of the extensive estates – were on the banks of the rivers and the broads, many with gardens large enough to incorporate woodland and enough land that the house was not visible at all. And no few of those old houses had their own narrow, private waterways that wound through their estate to the boathouse. The little dykes were frequently visible as you sailed around, some clear and still in use and others so long abandoned and thickly overgrown with waterlilies they were no longer passable.

The engine settled from a roar to a steady humming. The boat had stopped. There was a moment where it purred and that was all they could hear, then abruptly it roared again as the boat accelerated and the torch beams reappeared on the water. The boat shot across the Broad, heading for the river and Ludham Bridge. The torches never flashed in their direction; Dare doubted they’d seen the Sealark on the dark water at all.

“She’s gone.” Jonah said eventually. They were both shivering. Dare drew him inside and closed the door, swatting him gently.

“Get back into bed.”

Poppet went with him. Dare put one of the cabin lights on and boiled the kettle to make tea, taking two mugs and the biscuit tin back to bed.

“It sounds like they’re dumping stuff.” Jonah said through a mouthful of biscuit, curling up to him to warm up. “Dropping it off for later collection, then dumping the boat somewhere random.”

“Random and not far from a road.” Dare mused, fingers playing with Jonah’s spine where the bones disappeared down into the curve of his behind. “Neatishead, Ludham Bridge, two minutes walk and you can meet a car and be gone.”

“And the dyke will lead to a mooring on a private estate.” Jonah chose another biscuit from the tin and lay back with it. “So you just nip down through the garden to collect – what’ll you bet one of them does at least odd jobbing or gardening on that estate? Nice easy way to collect in their own time and no one notices. Not in low season when there aren’t many people on the water overnight. At first light I say we take a look up that dyke.”

They dressed at first light – which at this time of the year didn’t happen until well after 7.30 am – and Jonah who had the most experience with depth judgement and precision steering, took the Sealark gently and gingerly into the dyke, wary of choking her with waterlilies or grounding her. But the dyke was obviously not that long out of use and had once taken a serious sized boat through her pathway; the Sealark moved without problem between the narrow banks through a stretch of woodland. Dare, leaning over the side to watch, saw the narrow little staithe against the bank and called down into the saloon.

“It’s here. There must be a boathouse further on but there’s a small staithe here by a path.”

Jonah drew her in. Moored to the little jetty was a shallow wooden dinghy. Elderly and somewhat battered as if it hadn’t seen use in some years, but well covered in a fitted tarpaulin. Dare stepped down onto the bank as Jonah stilled the engine and brought Sealark to a halt, followed by Poppet. She nosed curiously at the dinghy as Dare raised the tarpaulin.

There were several large canvas bags inside her, stuffed with tools, fittings, anything made of iron.

“They’re selling this for scrap.” Dare said in disgust. “Some of these tools will be old, specially designed, irreplaceable, especially the ones from the boatyards. They’re only after the scrap value.”

He knew it would anger Jonah as much as him. Working with craftsmen and boat builder they knew first hand that many such people spent their adult lives collecting their personal tools, some inherited from mentors and family and passed down generations, of little value to anyone save their owner.

“I’m not putting this on Sealark.” He said to Jonah. “We’re not handling stolen goods and messing up the police’s chance of getting fingerprints. And I don’t think the dinghy’s sound enough to tow out onto the open water with this weight, it’d sink.”

And they had no idea how soon the thieves would be collecting last night’s haul, or how long it might take to get hold of Edward Grey and for him to bring a boat down here. The thought of those tools being lost was not a pleasant one.

“Then we scuttle her.” Jonah said, switching the engine off.

“What?” Dare demanded.

“It’s a smuggler’s trick. Perfect for shallow waters like this. We move her away from the staithe, put her down on the bottom of the dyke so she’s out of sight and we’ll come back and raise her again at Edward’s convenience. Fingerprints still intact, I know that from the boat accident in the marina in Cowes, the police raised the wreck and got fingerprints from the cabin to find who’d been sailing her when she went down. If those men come back they’ll think she’s been found and removed, they won’t find her.”

“Then I’ll do it.” Dare said grimly. “The water’s going to be freezing thanks, this is some way to spend Christmas Eve. Stop laughing!”

The water was in fact just above thigh deep and stepping down into it was not pleasant. Dare untied and walked the dinghy ahead of him about ten feet back towards the Broad as Jonah backed up the Sealark, and spent a long minute leaning his weight on the dinghy’s nose to push it down below the water. Once he got her there she sank quite quickly with some help from him to lean her down until she lay flat on the bottom. The Broads water was opaque grey and brown, not clear enough to see more than a few inches below the surface; no one would see her there. Dare waded back to the staithe and climbed up on to it, walking down the bank with dripping trousers and an excited spaniel to meet the Sealark, and lifted Poppet onto the side before he climbed aboard, shivering hard.

“Want a shower?” Jonah invited, grinning at him and backing the Sealark rapidly down the dyke towards the exit. Dare stripped off wet shoes, shocks and pants, picking up the towel Jonah had left for him and heading for the bathroom.

“Yes. Get us out of here.”

They spent a leisurely morning watching the birds fishing on the Broad until around ten am a small powered boat brightly decorated with flashing Christmas lights, tinsel and several inflatable snowmen appeared with a crew of four, one of whom was in full Father Christmas costume and waved to them. They moored in the middle of the Broad and dropped the mudweight there, and from the look of things proceeded to keep warm and enjoy themselves with coffee and mince pies. With only a gentle wind this morning it was going to take the sailing boats time to get up the river from Wroxham; it was about three and half hours on a powered boat and Dare thought they’d start to see the fastest yachts around midday.  Other boats started to muster around 11am, most of them decorated for Christmas, filling up the moorings at the staithes and a few like the Sealark, putting down the mudweight in open water. Most of the boats were familiar ones; from the many hours they had spent on the river they were beginning to know the names and colours and recognise the faces of the well bundled up people in hats, gloves and scarves who nodded and waved when they passed. The Swanning About came into view about 11.30 and when Dare waved them over Mick flung him a rope and they roped the two boats together side by side before Jamie dropped their mudweight to anchor them.

“Good morning! Beautiful morning for the race, they’re coming up fast – we passed about six on our way and we could see more behind us. Haven’t seen Tim yet. We towed him down to The Swan last night and he slept on board and sailed down to Wroxham to the starting line first thing this morning. Is that coffee? You’re an angel.”

Dare handed him a mug, returned Jamie’s hug and passed the other mug to Mick as Mick stepped aboard the Sealark.

“We slept on the Broad, thought we’d reserve a good spot.”

“This is perfect.” Jamie agreed, taking a seat on the sofa beside Jonah. “You do have good view in this cabin, she’s really designed for spectating.”

“We were talking last night and we think we’re going to make an offer for her.” Dare took the steering chair with his own coffee, leaving Mick to stretch out his height and bulk on the other sofa and Poppet to circle round a few times before flopping on the floor at Jonah’s feet.

Jamie laughed, raising his coffee mug to toast Dare. “Aww that’s great! You’re in love!”

“We are.” Jonah agreed. “She feels like ours.”

“I think every boat I’ve ever had – and I’ve sailed since I was a kid – has been a friend,” Mick said reflectively, “Some more than others, but they all have different feels to them. Personalities. We saw the Swanning About for sale in a yard and fell for her on the spot.”

“With that name we couldn’t resist.” Jamie added. “It just seemed meant to be. The right boat does seem to find you at the right moment. Tim’s been nursing the Edie May along for about four years now, she was a wreck dried out in a barn when he found her. I just wish he’d find someone to mess around on her with.”

“Stop match making.” Mick ordered. Jamie gave him a naughty look over the edge of his glass.

“I’ve been trying to set him up for years. He’s tough though, he’s never taken me up on any suggested dates and we’ve had some lovely guys come through the pub.”

“Will Edward be here this morning?” Dare asked. “I’ve been trying to phone his base this morning but no one’s answering.”

“It’s going to be a 999 job or calling him direct on his mobile,” Jamie advised, “The police are a bit pushed at this time of year. He very likely will be around, but I don’t know when?”

“Do you have his mobile number?”

“Yes.” Jamie pulled out his phone, found the number in contacts and handed Dare the phone. “Something you need to report?”

“Yes, we had the day boat thieves go past us last night.” Dare entered the number into his own phone and pressed ‘call’. “They dropped off a lot of tools and other metal in one of the private dykes on the far bank over there and headed off towards Ludham, I’d guess Edward will find the boat dumped at Ludham Bridge.”

“Tools?” Jamie demanded. “You saw it?”

“We went over to the dyke this morning and looked.” Jonah finished his coffee and got up to pour more. “They had it under cover on a dinghy moored to the garden staithe. Not difficult to come down through the garden and retrieve it when they’re ready.”

“It’ll probably be long gone before Edward gets here,” Mick said regretfully. “I don’t know what shift he’s working today-”

“Edward?” Dare interrupted as the mobile was answered. “It’s Dare Brody, sorry to bother you but Jonah and I saw your boat thieves a little after 3am this morning, you’ll probably find an abandoned day boat at Ludham Bridge, and the haul is in a dinghy in a private dyke off Barton Broad. We looked, we didn’t touch. If you can come down to Barton Broad we’re here, we can show you where it is. There’s no rush, it won’t be going anywhere.”

“You said they’d come get it through the garden?” Jamie said quizzically.

“We scuttled the boat.” Jonah topped up Jamie’s coffee and handed the coffee pot to Mick. “Put it down on the bottom of the dyke. They won’t find it and it won’t do the metal any harm for a few hours.”

Mick burst out laughing in his deep voice and Jamie shook his head.

“How did you think of that?”

“Haven’t you ever read any Arthur Ransome? It worked like a charm.”

“We’ll be here.” Dare said into the phone and ended the call. “He’s on his way and he’ll check Ludham Bridge, thinks he’ll be here in a couple of hours.”

On the Broad a tannoy on the Santa boat abruptly burst into life blasting Wizzard’s ‘I wish it could be Christmas Every Day’ across the water. The costumed Santa on the boat began to dance, holding his mug above his head.

The first yacht sailed out onto the Broad just before half past twelve to cheers from the watching boaters. It circled the Santa boat and received its ticket from Santa, after which it headed back towards the river entrance, tacking into the wind. The nearest chasing boat was just coming into view. Over the next two hours a steady stream of yachts made their turn around the Santa boat, some crewed by groups of friends but many of them family crewed boats. One sailing dinghy was crewed by two boys who looked to be about eight and ten years old, with their father in a powered cruiser following at a distance and keeping a wary eye on them. A large cruiser, one of the water bus ones that ran school trips and tourist cruises in high season, crossed the Broad to the big jetty towards one end where the small education centre floated, and a group of about twenty people disembarked wrapped up in thick coats, hats and gloves and equipped with microphones and amplifiers, and as the Santa boat turned off their music the education centre began to pipe music across the water and the group formed up and began to sing The Holly and the Ivy. Many of the people on the boats, including the four of them perched on the side of the Sealark, joined in.

Jamie, who knew Jonah and Dare’s schedule as well as they did, poked Mick at one thirty and they went back aboard the Swanning About, and Dare made the bed up in the saloon where Jonah could lay and watch the yachts. He lay down with him; for an hour they watched entangled together under a blanket as the sails went past across the Broad, and then Dare saw the wooden topped cruiser with the blue light on top and sat up.

“There’s Edward.”

They left Sealark and Swanning About in Mick and Poppet’s care and Jonah, Jamie and Dare climbed aboard the police cruiser to show Edward the private dyke. Dare sacrificed another pair of trousers and waded down the dyke to pull up the dinghy’s tow rope which they attached to the police cruiser. When Edward gunned the cruiser engine the dinghy rose up to the surface in a long slow glide like a surfacing whale. Jamie jumped down into the water, swearing vociferously with shock at the cold, to help Dare pull out the several crates and hand them up to Edward, and Dare tipped the now empty dinghy, emptying her out until she again floated by herself. They returned her with her canvas cover to the staithe and climbed back aboard the Police cruiser, shivering hard. Edward backed the cruiser out of the dyke and set a fast course for the Swanning About and Sealark, throwing a rope across to Mick to rope his cruiser to the Swanning About’s other side. Jamie disappeared fast into the Swanning About’s cabin towards the shower and Dare took his second shower of the day to warm up while Mick poured the coffee he’d had ready. Being a publican he had more discerning tastes and a proper coffee machine in their cabin and Edward accepted a mug appreciatively, kneeling on his deck to look through the crates.

“This is probably several nights’ haul. They must stock pile it for collection. I’ve radioed the land team, they’re talking to the home owners. It likely is their gardener who’s been enabling this – or leading it. The day boat was at Ludham Bridge like you thought. It’s being finger printed and we’ll print the stuff here too. They obviously weren’t expecting anyone to sleep out on the Broad at this time of year – how did you two not freeze?”

“He’s hot.” Jonah said cheerfully, nodding at Dare as he remerged in clean clothes, drying his hair. Dare gave him a swift, affectionate grin.

“And we had hot water bottles. We’ve spent years out on water at all times of year so we’re used to it and the Sealark’s heater is surprisingly good. I didn’t expect her to have the battery power she does, and she’s well insulated despite all the glass.”

“They’re out here all weathers, all hours of the day and night, they’re addicted.” Mick said appreciatively. “I’ve seen the Broads Bug bite many but it’s got these two good and hard.”

“These look like serious tools.” Dare sat on the Sealark’s side to drink his coffee, looking down into the crate. “Boatyard tools.”

“Yes. We probably won’t find all the turned over places until the new season starts, but at least we can say when the reports come in to come and pick this lot up.”

“I’m freezing.” Jamie complained, coming out of the Swanning About’s bathroom and coming to pull his thick coat on and huddle up against Mick who put an arm around him. “And I’ll never get the mud out of those trousers.”

Mick pulled him close enough to kiss his temple. “We need to think about getting back anyway, it’s going to be busy tonight. We’ll see you two at one pm tomorrow.”

“You get a decent rest in the morning,” Jamie told Dare sternly, “A big meal takes up energy to digest and I’ve seen the menu, you will be eating a big meal. Edward, we’ll keep yours hot until you get off duty.”

“Looking forward to it.” Edward stood up, coffee mug in hand to finish it. “I always end up with the Christmas Day shift, no kids, but at least the overtime pay is good-”

His radio buzzed. Edward went to get it and was back a moment later to hand back his mug.

“Got to go. One of the yachts has sail issues and is stuck at Ludham, needs a tow back to Odham. The Edie May?”

“That’s Tim Dunkley.” Mick said in surprise. “Is he ok?”

“Yes fine, just cross apparently.”

“It’s her first real trip since her restoration was finished.”

“Always takes time to shake a new boat down. I’ll go take him home.”

“We can pick him up on-” Mick began and stopped as Jamie dug him in the ribs.

“No we can’t, we need to hurry. The bar staff will sulk all evening if we leave them short handed and I can’t stand the pouting, we have to run. Quick quick quick, hurry hurry, chop chop.”

Mick look surprised but got up obediently. “I think we’re leaving. Dare, Jonah, see you tomorrow.”

The Police cruiser pulled away and the Swanning About’s engine started up, Jamie took in her ropes and waved as they followed.

“What was that about?” Dare asked Jonah who was grinning.

“Edward Grey. No wife, no kids, single? And he didn’t blink when Mick kissed Jamie. Not straight guy ‘I’m cool and not flinching’ either. I saw Jamie clock it and he said he likes a bit of match making.”

It was getting very crisp by the time they moored the Sealark at the cottage with a sharpness in the air that promised a night frost. Twilight was gathering fast, the Christmas lights around the cottage porch and the elderly trees were bright and twinkling gently against a clear night sky which picked out the sparkle of the water and the gentle lines of the old cottage.

Jonah stooped to fasten the mooring rope as Poppet leapt down onto the staithe and went to see what wildlife had been in the garden since she last checked her messages. Dare locked the Sealark, and as Jonah straightened up, Dare took his hand, pulling Jonah over into his arms to kiss him. Jonah closed his eyes, breathing him and the night breeze in equal amounts with the peace and the scent of damp, cold grass and the flowing water. Because tonight life was good. Not just tolerable but good. Dare finally let him come up for air and his forehead leaned against Jonah’s for a moment.

“You are so beautiful when you’re excited. Or when you’re laughing at me up to my knackers in freezing water. Do you know that?”

Jonah laughed, snatching another kiss. “You don’t have to work this hard. ‘Let’s go to bed’ would do it, trust me you already have me very up for it.”

“In a minute.” Dare held on to him and Jonah felt him reach into an inside pocket. “I was thinking this year is always going to be a huge one for us, a big landmark, and it needed marking and celebrating.”

There was something small and cold in his hand. Jonah felt it against his left hand and let Dare open his palm, sliding something gently onto his fourth finger. In the glow of the Christmas lights and the bright, cold light of the stars overhead Jonah looked down at a silver ring sitting snugly against the simple silver wedding bands that both he and Dare wore. Flat and resilient in the style he much preferred: the kind of ring you could safely wear while sailing and messing around outdoors without worrying about it – but there was something shaped all the way around the surface of the band that made it delicate all the same: something subtle, discreet but there and Jonah made out the feathers, the head and graceful beak.

“It’s a lark.” Dare said in his ear. “I didn’t know this until I started talking to the silversmith, but larks can sing no matter what they do. They’re the only bird that can still sing while flying. This is a one off, it’s the only one of its kind; he made it especially for you.”

The Sealark was undulating gently behind them at the staithe.

The boat finds you at the right time.

Jonah pressed his head against Dare’s, his eyes blurring as he looked down at the ring.    

“It’s beautiful.”

“Perfect match for you then.” Dare kissed him again, gently, and stooped, lifting Jonah off his feet and into his arms. Jonah put an arm around his neck as Dare carried him across the dark grass, Poppet trotting ahead of them to wait by the cottage door.

The trip here was torture, you were white as a sheet.  We had to get away from sterile hospital land and find water.  For weeks more it was awful, knowing I’d almost lost you and that you still weren’t here with me, choosing instead to hide within yourself.  Then came a glimpse, fleeting but there.  A touch a few days later and eventually we connected, our true and deep connection regrew.  This place of escape in the middle of nowhere, now so much more than that with friends, a community, Poppet and Sealark.  Tonight, Christmas , I carry you home.

The End


Happy Christmas

Copyright Rolf and Ranger 2015


mc said...

What a gorgeous, gorgeous story. Memorable characters, deceptively simple structure, utterly unforgettable. You both have a talent for creating the perfect meal, whether it's a drabble or an epic. I always want more, but it's not because I'm not satisfied...I just don't want the delightful evening to end. And yet, whenever I think that I couldn't love anyone more than the pre-existing characters and stories, you show me emphatically that's not the case. What a lovely parable for life, and opening your heart to the new and uncharted.

Merry Christmas, and oh! oh! thank you.

Friederike Becker said...

I've finally found the time and read this gorgeous story to the end. Your sense for Characters, environment and atmosphere never fails! Any time I think I "have" my favorite characters in your writers universe you show me, that there are more lurking in the back of your minds. I'm lookin' forwards to many more years of enoying the fruits of your creativity.
Happy New Year and thank you so much!

Most of the artwork on the blog is by Canadian artist Steve Walker.

Rolf and Ranger’s Next Book will be called The Mary Ellen Carter. The Mary Ellen Carter and other works in progress can be read at either the Falls Chance Ranch Discussion Group or the Falls Chance Forum before they are posted here at the blog. So come and talk to the authors and be a part of a work in progress.

Do you want to read the FCR Books
and Short Stories on your E-Reader?
Well, lucky for you, e-book files can be found in
both the Yahoo Group and the Discussion Forum.