This month’s #blogbattle is ‘pastoral’.
To many, the scene was idyllic, a pastoral splendour redolent of Ye Olde England, the Darling Buds of May and a simpler, more honest time. To Evan Elpus is was the epitome of dull. No make that DULL. The only thing it was redolent of was wasps. And hay fever. And nettles. Sodding nettles. Christ they even made tea from nettles these days, not that Evan had tried it, assuming it would be like a tissane of scotch bonnets. And if that vindaloo Miriam had made him eat was any guide and the scalding his anus has taken as a result, then he didn’t fancy ending up with a fire breathing winkle after a cup of herby napalm.
Evan picked up his hold-all, tried to block out the ‘eye-candy vista’ as promised by the literature he’d received and headed for the ticket office. The train, an unbelievably misnamed ‘sprinter’ given its sclerotic efforts so far, pulled away in a cloud of diesel and a hiss of despair. The office wasn’t manned, which either showed a level of trust or indifference or both that London lacked. Well, it lacked the trust; it was, Evan had to admit, perfectly capable of holding its own in the indifference stakes.
He shouldered his way out the other side and stopped by the drop off. Nothing. No promised lift. No…
Evan squinted towards the left and into the lowering sun, that some ancient tree fractured into impossibly sharp shards of light. He briefly imagined the publicist for this bucolic scene sprinkling the odd ‘dappled’ about but in his view it was just painful. Still emerging from it was… oh you are shitting me, he thought.
Walking towards Evan, her grin as broad as her shoulders was Victoria-Marjory Innel, known to one and all as Tori-Marg. Evan noted the red-apple cheeks, the Barbour jacket, the hair that looked like its style might best be described as barbed and tried (and failed) to ignore the competing memories of countless humiliations from his teenage years. True, he had lost his virginity with Tori-Marg but the way she had gripped him with those steam hammer thighs at the point of peak climax had left him with nerve damage and a tendency to list to the left. He braced himself for the inevitable hug, grateful his job included comprehensive medical cover.
‘You gorgeous man. I could eat you.’
Tori-Marg gripped Evan’s shoulders and held him at arm’s length. Evan felt himself appraised; possibly she was deciding if he was sufficient to comprise a starter or merely an amuse bouche.
‘You haven’t changed a bit,’ she offered, though this was patently untrue since the last time they’d met he had been able to hold his own, follicly speaking. Now he possessed what he once heard described as a solar panel for a sex-god but the irony wasn’t lost on either him or Miriam.
Ah Miriam. She may not be capable of holding her own in a mud wrestle with the bovine Tori-Marg but she would, Evan was sure, have had her measure soon enough.
‘You’re back then?’
For a moment one of Evan’s recurrent nightmares threatened to overwhelm his synapses, the one where he’s back at school, without his trousers and being marched to the punishment cupboard where Spanker Simpson kept his multiplicity of correctional apparatus. He never got away.
Possibly Tori-Marg noticed his confusion, as she added, ‘For the filming. We’re all so excited!’
Terror of a sort gripped Evan. ‘We?’
‘Miss Hazel’s class. Tommy and Ronny, Pammy and Sammy, Maisie and Daisy, Florie and Laurie…’
While Tori-Marg carried on he list, Evan wondered that he’d never noticed the couplets before.
‘Of course Stefan isn’t here.’ Her voice had dropped to an almost whisper.
‘Why of course?’
‘You’ve not heard?’
‘Probably as well…’
Evan was about to ask why, when Tori-Marg spun around. ‘Come on, superstar. We’ve only got you for the night, before the film crew bosses us all around. We’ll drop off your bag at Mrs Thepoint’s B&B and then we’ll meet the rest at the Buggered Bunny for a few drinks. It’s so exciting, having a star here, filming. Our own little Evan Elpas.’
Evan instinctively pulled back. If Tori-Marg noticed she hid it well, spinning on her wellies and heading into the sunset.
Evan glanced. It might look delightful, the perfect place to grow up. But Evan knew better and that was exactly what he and the crew were going to film tomorrow. He pulled back his shoulders and followed. One more ghastly night of faux bonhomie and he’d have his revenge.
Funny thing, though, mused Evan the next morning. He’d quite enjoyed himself. Just goes to show, he thought as he headed out into the pale early mist wreathed dawn. Like this place, he knew how to look charming, how to deceive. Time to lay me some ghosts.
As he left the gravelled drive of Mrs Thepoint’s, a small crow evacuated its bowels temporarily blinding Evan who stumbled in front of Thaddeus Pillock’s combine harvester. Thaddeus looked on in horror as the life drained out of Evan. For his part Evan felt the urge to laugh. That’s what they’d all said last night. How lucky he was.