OK folks, here it is, the final epic story in the 2008 Annual. I think this may well be my finest Ben story to date:
Ben wakes up in his Cambridge apartment with a thumping headache. On the bedside table are several empty glasses and wine bottles while Katie is asleep in the bed beside him.
"Oh no, what have I done again",
Ben thinks to himself and he drags himself to the bathroom and stares vacantly into the mirror. His beauty is undiminished, although his dark, dreamy eyes are slightly hazy .
"I must stop doing this to myself. I need a proper relationship." He thinks to himself.
He hears the door buzzer go and , thinking it must be the postman with a parcel, forces himself into the lounge and to the door. However he is shocked to open the door and see Kyle:
"Awight mate, good ta see ya."
Ben is puzzled, "Er, hello Kyle."
"Thought I'd surprise ya. Well like, ya said that I should visit you in Cambridge sometime."
"Oh ehm right. Ehm, you'd better come in."
Kyle bounds in and looks around the flat enthused:
"Ere lovely pad this. An you got your own little bar area."
Katie is emerging from the bedroom rubbing her head.
"Oh hello. Ben said he'd been having problems with one of the taps in the bathroom. Its through there, probably the washer gone."
Kyle looks bemused. Ben steps in: "Oh no, he's not the plumber, Kyle's a friend".
Katie is confused:"You mean to say that you know this person socially? Hang on... no.... you idiot Ben, you mean to say that you're seeing rent boys? And you slept with me you ****"
*throws a cushion at Ben*.
Kyle is offended:"Whats she mean rentboy & plumber? Stuck up cow."
"Well I can see that Ben hasn't invited you here for the intellectual conversation." Katie retorts: "Still I suppose you need the money for glue & plastic bags."
Ben steps in again:"Look he's someone I met in London. I said he could stay if he was ever in Cambridge, I didn't actually think he'd take me up on it...."
Kyle is furious:"I ain't stoppin' ere. **** you!"
He strides out, slamming the door behind him .Katie elegantly sits herself down on Ben's sofa:
"Its for the best. Foul mouthed . *wiping a speck of dust off her knee* I knew you were confused Ben but this is very sad".
Ben turns on her:
"That was awful. He isn't a rent boy and I shouldn't have said that last thing. Look just go Katie, ok."
Katie gets up:"What you need is to sort your head out. You need a good woman to straighten you out and you know it!"
"Just GO".Ben holds the door open while Katie gathers up her things and flounces out.
After a shower and a poached egg , Ben puts on some nice clothes and heads off into town. He has an appointment with Professor Hoffman, one of his old lecturers, to discuss some research work he'd been doing for the university at Avebury. As he walks down the road, he spots Kyle waiting at the bus stop. He goes over:
"Hi, look, I'm sorry about Katie."
"Ok I'm sorry about saying that I didn't really want you to come. Its just a surprise thats all, I mean it must be a long way for someone of your.. means to fork out for."
"You and your bird just think I'm filth. Actually I didn't cam ere because of you, I'm in a spot of bovver an this just seemed an easy way outa Landon for a bit thats all. An I hitched most of the way."
"Katie isn't my 'bird'. Its complicated. And you're in trouble? What kind of trouble?"
"Whats it to you?"
"Are you on the run from the police?"
Kyle is angry:"As it 'appens no. My mates, well kinda mates, thought it'd be a larf to rob some bloke in a car park camin' out of this flash motor. Turns out he worked for Des Hutcheson."
Ben is confused:"Des Hutcheson?"
"Don't you know naffink? He owns 'alf of the protection rackets in Sarf London".
"So lets get this straight. You were out with your lowbrow so-called mates when they mug a man who works for one of London's top gangsters. And you had to get out of there fast for a while, so you thought you'd come here as no one would know where you were. Good grief!"
"Well you needn't worry, I'm goin' back."
Ben takes a reluctant sigh:"No you're not. Look I'm sorry for what Katie said. You can stay for a while. I have an appointment at noon, lets have a bit of breakfast in town first."
Later that morning, Ben & Kyle are punting down the Cam.
"I haven't done this since I was a student", Ben muses, "I don't suppose going to Cambridge was ever part of your life expectation."
Kyle is looking all around at the buildings and students sitting by the river.Suddenly, as they pass under a bridge, the punt hits something hard. Ben looks down and is shocked to see....... a body in the water!
- to be continued