Saturday, June 17, 2006

Following the trail

Earlier this evening, I sat in the window seat of my cosy new home and watched the sun set. The sky was full of soft pinks and purples and I felt so content but, as the sun was sliding down behind the sea, the walls around me seemed to close in and I longed for fresh air.

As soon as I stepped outside, I noticed two lit candles nearby. Each had a lover’s knot tied around the base in red silk thread and I knew they were a sign from Jez. I began to search for further signs. There was a driftwood arrow pointing towards the beach and I crossed over the road and stood on the promenade, gazing out to sea. The strains of an orchestra playing “Margaritaville” drifted around me and, in the distance, I could see the waves washing up on the shore.

I walked down the steps on to the beach where I saw something glittering at my feet. It was a locket on a chain, the sort that you might win on a fairground; cheap metal but it looked like gold to me. I fastened it around my neck and looked for the next clue. I couldn’t miss it. Straight ahead was a huge heart drawn in the sand. There were pebbles in its centre, spelling out the letters J and T. And finally, a row of flickering red candles burned in the sand, leading me towards a boat where a dark silhouette waited. I knew it was Jez and I longed to take those final steps towards him but I was afraid. Afraid it was a dream and I would awaken to emptiness as I have so often lately.

“Toni,” he said, “Toni, it’s me.”

He held out his hand and I took one step forward. Only one step. And then I waited in the soft salt air.

“Jez, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

He walked towards me, each step an eternity, until he held me in his arms.

“Everything’s going to be OK,” he said. And I knew it would be.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


You’re probably going to think I’m crazy but I’m convinced Jez is here, in this village. First of all, I was about to throw away the envelope from AP yesterday when I noticed, in the bottom right hand corner, Jez’s initials and a tiny heart. At the time, I thought it might be an old envelope from Jemima’s or AP making some sort of joke but then, this morning, outside the front door, I found a small carving of a narrowboat, like the one Jez had. It was about the size of the toys you get in Kinder Surprises. It was warm in my hand and all sorts of images of the weekend we spent on the boat came flooding into my mind, as though they had been compressed into this tiny little boat somehow.

I think he’s trying to send me the message that he’s here. I needed to find a way to contact him so I bought a postcard of Che Guevara from the souvenir shop (there’s a local link with Guevara but I’ll not go into that here). It looks like the painting that was on his narrowboat. I’ve left it next to the door step, held down by a heart shaped pebble I found on the beach. Dr Flingle was walking past and I thought he was going to tell me to take it away but he just shook his head and said, “Women!”

Back inside, I started thinking about the things I’ve done. Do I deserve to be with someone as nice as Jez? I’m not convinced that I do. But you can’t wipe out history. What I can do, and I’m going to do, is to use AP’s money for a good purpose. The other day, I heard some music. When I followed it up, I found it was being played by The Genius Child Orchestra and I overhead someone saying they were short of funds. So I’m going to give the money to support the work of The Genius Child Orchestra. Picar is a wonderful place but it is a little short of music.

Perhaps when all this tainted money is gone, I’ll be able to start afresh. I know that’s what I was doing three months ago when I started this blog – it didn’t work out but I’ve learnt so much on my journey, I’m much more prepared this time. And I might be able to make that fresh start with Jez, you never know.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Letter

I went for a long walk this morning, along the seafront. It was very early, even before the fisherman had gone out, although some of them were getting their boats ready. The sea air gave me an appetite and I stopped at the café for breakfast. I got chatting to the woman who runs it and she says she might have a job for me. Washing up again.

I ate my bacon and eggs outside, watching the boats bobbing off to the fishing grounds. It looks like a good life, being a fisherman. Living your life with the rhythm of the sea. Being a part of its ebb and flow. Like breathing but much much more.

When I got home to the cottage, there was a notice on the front door. “Dr Flingle’s surgery closed due to bereavement.” I unlocked the door and went in. There was a strong smell of licorice.

“Lock it,” a slurry voice said. It was Dr Flingle.

I locked it behind me and peered into his office. “Are you OK?” I asked.

“Hadbit toomuch ‘f thegreenfairy,” he slurred.


“The Green Fairy. Absinthe.” He lifted the bottle to show me.

“Has something happened?”

“She’s gone, gone. Run off with that efffffffff’ing Polemite Preacher.” He put his head down on the desk. “Left me for a bloody preacher.”

“But it says bereavement on the door.”

He lifted his head. “’S’right. She’s dead to me.” He picked up the bottle and poured another glass. “Dead and gone.”

“If there’s anything …”

“No, I’ll be fine. Fine. Fffffing fine.”

I turned to go.

“Oh,” he says, “Oh Tanya.”

“It’s Toni.”

“Oh yes, Toni. For you.”

He handed me an envelope, a bit sticky and stained from the absinthe but with my name clearly handwritten on it. I kept turning it over and over as I went up the stairs. Behind me I could hear Dr Flingle muttering, “Always said she was plastic. Always.”

Inside the envelope was a lot of money and a note:

Dear Toni

It worries me that you’re going to get yourself in too deep working for Morgan, especially as it was my idea. It’s tough, even for people like me and I can tell that you aren’t as strong as I am. I’m giving you this money in the hope it will encourage you to break free while you can. Take yourself back home to England and pay off those debts. Be a nurse again and help people instead of doing them harm.

When I told you this was an easy way to make money I was wrong. I realise that now. If I could get away from it I would but it’s too late for me. It’s not too late for you.


It’s made me feel really guilty about AP. I know now I shouldn’t have accepted that extra job from Tristan. But it can’t be helped.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My New Home

I’ve found somewhere to live. It’s only half a cottage, the upstairs rooms of a doctor’s surgery but it’s full of ‘original features’ and has a brilliant sea view. The walls are bumpy and whitewashed and the windows are leaded in a diamond pattern. There’s an open fireplace which the doctor tells me still works but I don’t need it just now. I think some of the furniture might be original too. It certainly looks old enough.

I spent this afternoon sitting in the window seat reading a book I found in the bottom of the wardrobe. “Easter Parade,” by Richard Yates. The sun was shining in and, behind me, I could hear the sea washing up on the shore. Sometimes, it seemed like it was saying, “Jez, Jez,” but then I’d get drawn back into the story and I wouldn’t be able to hear it any more.

Tomorrow I’m going to do some more practical things. Try to find a job. Contact Ann at home to ask her to put my house up for sale and then use the money to pay off my debts. That will be my commitment to staying here so I can truly settle. I think I can be happy here.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Down b- La-e Tao

I’-e been sleeping down b- La-e Tao for the past few nights. I left the Golden Chain in the middle of the night, crept out so that -emima and AP wouldn’t -now. AP seemed to be ill, he was confined to his room and I saw -emima bustling in and out loo-ing worried. I had to lea-e. I couldn’t loo- -emima in the e-e after what Morgan as-ed me to do and, of course, I couldn’t let AP -now I was refusing m- mission. It’s all a bit scar- but, for some reason, I -now it’s going to turn out alright.

Before I go an- further, I’d better e-plain that I’m using a -e-board that onl- has nineteen letters so -ou’ll ha-e to be patient and a little proacti-e in reading this. The computer belongs to a -illage of dolls that is nearb- and, although the whole thing seems -er- strange, I’m not letting it worr- me. As long as it’s connected to the internet, I’m not going to let it worr- me. That’s the best thing around here. I saw a man with a radish on his lip –esterda-, but I’m not letting that worr- me either.

There’-e been a couple of times in the past three months when I’-e found m-self in Picar with nothing. The first was after m- impulsi-e -ourne- to Picar and the second was after m- une-pected return from New –or- when I was hoping to go to England. But I’-e planned this time. I’-e got a ruc-sac- pac-ed with clean clothes (lots of –nic-ers and soc-s, -ou can ne-er ha-e too man- -nic-ers or soc-s) and a debit card for m- Picardian ban- account which is stuffed with mone- from Morgan (he paid reall- well). Plus I bought a tent and a sleeping bag so I am -uite comfortable at the moment.

I ha-e a plan though. There’s a fishing -illage where I’m hoping to rent a cottage. It’s possibl- a bit too near to The Golden Chain but it’s a -er- close-lipped place. As
-ou’re entering the -illage, there’s a sign that sa-s, “What happens here, sta-s here,” and, fingers crossed, news of me being there shouldn’t get bac- to -emima (or an-one else for that matter.)

I don’t thin- I’ll be going bac- to England -et. I don’t thin- I can go bac- to England. This place won’t let me. I’m sad about that because -ez is there but I carr- him in m- heart and in m- head so at least I ha-e that. I’ll tr- to settle here, ma-be find a -ob in the -illage. Probabl- gutting fish, -nowing m- luc-.

There’s a rag doll here waiting to use the computer so I’d better go. “Important Polemite mission wor-,” she keeps sa-ing, “It can’t wait, it can’t wait.” I’ll let -ou
-now about the cottage.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I can't

Details of my next mission arrived this morning from Morgan.

I can’t do that. Not to Jemima.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Nearly forgot to tell you. AP’s here. He keeps trying to talk to me but I keep telling him I’m busy. I don’t like the look in his eye. I don’t think I want to hear what he wants to say.

Cochrech Industries

I paid Tristan a visit this morning at Cochrech Industries. It was what Morgan wanted me to do and, as I’d had a card from Tristan asking me to call him, the two combined very nicely.

CI is up near Parallex Point. I asked Jemima the best way to get there without actually telling her I was visiting CI. She suggested a taxi because it can be difficult to get there on foot. I’d expected Tristan to be an uptight businessman but he was much more relaxed. Like an aging hippy with long hair and sandals. He took me into his office and then went to find us some coffee; his secretary is off sick. As he left the room, another door in the office swung open – it must not have been properly closed. I went to close it, but as I neared, I saw inside. It was full of television monitors, all with names underneath: Jez, Leo, Lucy, Brim and AP are the names I can remember but there were lots of others. My name wasn't there thank goodness.

Only two monitors were turned on. One was Leo’s. It showed Leo in a open air sort of place but, although there was green grass and sunshine, it didn’t seem to be outdoors. Do you remember that film, The Truman Show? Well, it was like that, all natural looking but with huge lights hanging high above. Leo looked so lost.

Charles’ monitor showed the scene I saw when I arrived. The film crew and a barefoot man. But it wasn’t the gorilla footage that was showing, it was the image of the crew and the man who, now I think about it, must be Horace’s brother.

I tried to turn Jez’s monitor on but the switches were too high up and I couldn’t reach. Then I heard Tristan whistling as he returned with the coffee. When we’d settled down in the comfy chairs in the corner of his office, he asked me to keep an eye out for Horace. That’s all. Keep an eye out for Horace. So I said I would, although I don’t think I’ll see him.

As soon as I got back here I sent off the information to Morgan. I’ll not bore you with the details of how I do that, but it’s a complicated process I can tell you. I got a message back saying he’ll send me my next mission. It should arrive on Thursday.