His Grandmothers Ring
So glad the weekend is here again! I have lots to talk about this weekend too! World Cup Football, friends, just so much to say, but lets stick to stories for now. YES, I lost four pounds over the last three weeks, tomorrow I will tell you why I didn’t lose five. Below is chapter three of Flat Country Snow. I hope you have all fallen in love with my friend Steven, and laughed at Sheila and the troubles she got herself into. I hope you enjoy the Sgt. and his wife. These were real, and very nice characters from my past, names changed of course. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. Enjoy my story and feel free to leave your comments. This may be the only way you ever read this story, so enjoy!
We went downstairs hand in hand, and found Sgt and Mrs. Davies at the bottom taking off their coats and waiting to be shown into the dining room. Steven walked over to the couple, still holding my hand, and Sgt Davies turned around, what a nice round friendly face he had, I warmed to him immediately. Steven introduced me to Sgt Davies and his wife, who was called Edna. “My dear Sheila you can call me Roger, unfortunately, until Steven is promoted to a Sergeant, he still has to salute my and call me Sgt”. He laughed loudly after he said this and added “Just for tonight you can leave out the salute”. His breath smelled of beer and whiskey so I knew he was already in good spirits. We were ushered to the bar for cocktails. “What would you like to drink my dear” he asked me. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to drink, I didn’t want a hangover, and I didn’t want to be carried out of the restaurant. Before I had time to answer, Steven said, “Well as we are celebrating, let me get a bottle of champagne” On cue, I held up my left hand, and displayed my sparkly new acquisition. It really did sparkle, and Edna’s eyes opened wide. “Oh luvy, how wonderful, congratulations, the drinks are on us of course” “Good Man” Sgt Davies (oops Roger) said and slapped Steven on the back so hard that I thought his eyes would pop out. The barman popped the cork off the champagne and poured us another glass. I could easily get used to this.
We sat on bar stools for about twenty minutes or so, conversation of course split. Roger was talking to Steven about the maneuvers they had just been through. It was the maneuvers that had brought them to Thetford, from the snippets of conversation I heard, it seemed to me like Steven was a very good soldier, I could tell there was a mutual respect between these two men. Of course Edna and I talked weddings, babies etc. etc. It was really funny considering Steven’s recent revelation, it was also sad because I imagine he would make a really good dad. I was a great judge of character, and he got an A plus in my books. In twenty minutes we polished off another bottle of champagne, and we were talking about what to order next when we were ushered to a table to order dinner.
The dining room was a lovely area, not too large but with lots of tables with white table cloths and candles, I had never eaten anywhere quite like it. The atmosphere was perfect, if I had really been celebrating and engagement, this would have been the place I would have chosen. We were seated at a round table in the corner and although the dining room was fairly full, it was still quite private. The tables were not packed closely together and because of the dimmed lighting, it felt very private. Roger switched to drinking beer “Got to fly back to Germany tomorrow, don’t like flying with a hangover”. I was thinking it was probably way too late to save the hangover. Edna switched to G&T, Steven winked at me and ordered another bottle of champagne. I was in love with a gay man, well his choice of beverage anyway. Silence fell over our little gathering while we looked at the menu. We all ordered surf and turf, we had seen it going to another table and it looked and smelled fabulous, how could we order anything else. We had freshly made pate and toast for starters too. Rodger asked us if we were going to have a military wedding and before I had chance to answer, Steven jumped in. “No we are going to have a quiet wedding in Sheila’s local church. Just close friends and immediate family, Sheila’s dad doesn’t enjoy good health so we are going to keep it simple” I smiled and openly held his hand over the table. He wasn’t wrong about my dad, who had suffered several strokes over the last few years. He did know about this as I had mentioned it in one of my letters. The pate was wonderful, and made from local game. We chatted and laughed, and when Steven left the table to go to the cloakroom, Roger beamed and told me what a good Sergeant he was going to make. ‘Mission Accomplished’ I thought. Our steaks and shrimp were equally as good as the pate and even though I felt completely stuffed, I couldn’t resist sharing some black forest gateaux with Edna. Everything was delicious. Edna and I left Roger and Steven to settle the bill and went and sat on the big overstuffed sofa by the fire, yes I got to sit in front of the fire at last. We ordered Bronte coffee’s (the same as Irish coffee, but with brandy instead of whiskey). Before the men joined us Edna took my hand and told me how happy she was for me and how glad she was that Steven would get his promotion. She looked a little embarrassed and admitted that Roger had thought he was a homosexual, and hadn’t dared promote him because of that. I looked convincingly shocked and assured her that there was nothing wrong with his masculinity. She laughed and told me she couldn’t see why anyone would think there was, especially now. As the guys approached Edna gave me a hug and wished me all the best. I felt quite tearful because she was so genuinely happy for us. We sat there for a little longer, enjoying the coffee and the fire. I felt quite drowsy and snuggled up next to Steven with my head on his shoulder. I wasn’t sure if I dozed off, but I suddenly jumped, like you do when you are halfway between being awake and being asleep. In my halfway to somewhere state, I saw the face of a beautiful little girl, with pink ribbons in her curly blonde hair. I had seen that face on several occasions, usually before something happened. It was there for a split second and then it was gone. Maybe I was just exhausted from my journey and everything else that had happened since I arrived in Thetford. I called this little girl my guardian angel, but when I first saw her I was about seven years old and was on vacation in Blackpool. She appeared to me the day before a very sad event. I hoped nothing sad was going to happen now. I looked at Steven and without meaning to, yawned. He laughed and looked at his watch. “I think it’s time to call it a night, Sheila has a long drive tomorrow and I am sure you guys want to spend some time together before Roger goes back to Germany” Everyone agreed it was time to end the pleasant evening. Roger went off and got the front desk to order a taxi. I asked Edna how come she didn’t move to Germany, and she told me it was difficult to keep changing schools for the kids. She said it was hard being apart, but they got together as often as they could. She took my hand and looked at the ring again, and then gave me a big hug and told me she looked forward to seeing me in the Sergeants Mess. I felt a little sad that I probably wouldn’t see her or Roger again. Who could know where my life was headed, but probably not into a marriage with a gay soldier, no matter how handsome and nice he was. Roger came over and helped Edna into her fur coat, before giving me a hug and telling me how very happy he was and what a good and lucky man Steven was. He patted Steven on the back, a little more gently this time and then put his arm around Edna and off they went out of the front door and into the snow. Steven looked at me and smiled “that went really well” he said “now let’s go up to bed and have wild sex, I’m not really gay at all” I looked at him with wide eyes (half hoping he was telling the truth now), but he just started laughing and told me he was pulling my leg. We were both wide awake now, the blast of cold air from the front door as Roger and Edna left had revived us, but we did go upstairs. We both went into my room and made ourselves comfortable on the bed with a blanket pulled around us and just talked. He told me all about his life so far, and how hard it was to be different and swing the other way. There was so much prejudice in the world and so many people thought if you liked wanted a same-sex partner you were a pervert, 1974 was a very tough time. The thought of moving to San Francisco had passed through his mind, just because he had read a lot about Harvey Milk and the gay movement he was part of in the Castro area. But he could never move to the States because he loved the British Military too much to leave. Also Steven wasn’t openly Gay, no one would ever, in a million years think that he was, apart from his obvious lack of interest in the opposite sex. Hopefully this weekend had helped with that. He poured his heart out to me and I hugged him tight while he did. He said that his sexual orientation had never been talked about at home, although his family knew. I felt so sorry for him. He had the perfect life, apart from his secret. I wasn’t sure how things were going to turn out for him, but for now I just wanted to make him feel better. I don’t know if I went to sleep while he was talking, or if he finished talking and we both fell asleep, but the next thing I knew the sun was streaming in through the window and I could smell bacon cooking.