It’s Flynn Summers from Driftwood at the Merry Morgawr tonight. Flynn and Tom’s local watering-hole is the North Inn, Pendeen, but Flynn’s work sometimes brings him into contact with Sergeant Frayne from over Bodmin way, and it’s a good place for them to meet up, especially since Frayne’s other half, Lee Tyack, used to work behind the bar, and his friends make sure Flynn and Frayne don’t get interrupted. Tyack sometimes joins the conversations, too. He has a reputation as a talented clairvoyant, and Flynn – superstitious lad sometimes, like a lot of the folk who ply their trade by sea and air around Cornwall’s dangerous coasts – has cause to thank him for helping clear up a missing-persons case or two, when boats have vanished from local waters. Tom’s a lot more sceptical, but he always comes over to Falmouth with Flynn when he gets the chance. He’s just down the road right now, booking a table at the samphire restaurant for later, and Flynn is taking a moment with Hollis, who’s said…
I’d want to ask Flynn from Driftwood how he’s doing. I’d be especially interested in him staying safe and valuing his life so he can enjoy a long and happy one (hopefully) with his partner Tom.
Flynn: I’m glad we’ve got a minute to ourselves so I can tell you honestly. He’s changed so much, but he still can’t hear anyone singing his praises without dying of embarrassment. And I’ve got to tell you – you’ve probably worked it out for yourself – that I wouldn’t be around at all if not for him. By the time I met him, I was in so many bits that I could barely get from day to day. I mean, the good, safe, happy parts of my life were the times when I was hanging off a rope in the middle of an Atlantic storm.
I don’t know how he put me back together. If you asked him, he’d say that’s what I did for him. He had the more obvious problems – PTSD, a struggle with alcohol. Most of those shadows are behind him now, though we keep a dry house, and if we come out to the pub it’s a pint apiece and then onto the orange juice. He knows it’s best – safest – never to think an addiction’s been cured. And I keep that in mind too, because in a way I was hooked too, on years of guilt and the punishments I thought I deserved. In a way I was addicted to Rob Tremaine.
One night early on in our relationship – after the tower had fallen down, and we’d just moved into our house in Porth Bay – Tom said something to me that changed the way I looked at everything, and took so many thorns out of my memories. He’d been trying to help a woman in Sennen village wean off some kind of prescription drug she’d been buying online, and he’d been getting nowhere with her. The case had really worried him, but that day she’d come into the surgery, wildly excited because she’d just found out her sister was pregnant. Now, this lady’s sister was proper anti-drug, like a lot of kids who’ve grown up in substance-using households, and there was just no way she was gonna let Auntie anywhere near the kid unless she was stone-cold sober. And the one thing the lady wanted to do more than anything else was hold and look after her baby niece.
And that did it for her. She never touched a pill from that day to this. Tom said to me it was because she’d found out the one thing that was worse than having to stop the drug. He said that was just about the only way any kind of addict was gonna stop – when the consequences of going on were worse than the consequences of quitting. And I’m not very quick on the uptake sometimes, and I slowly realised he was talking about himself as well as this poor lady in Sennen. I had to ask him what had made him stop, what he’d been more scared of losing than alcohol, and he said, “You.”
So that was the end of that conversation, because you can’t hear something like that from someone as gorgeous as Tom Penrose without dragging him off to bed. It made me think, though, and I realised that, for me, he was my “worst thing”, too – that the thought of losing him was way worse than facing up to the reasons why I’d been clinging to Rob and letting that evil sod manipulate me and pull my strings.
So you can see how, between us, Tom and I managed to make each other value our lives. That’s a forever deal, too – as long as we both shall live. As for safety… that’s a slightly different matter. I can choose to be safe about some things, like not heading off on a suicide mission because of bad stuff that happened in the past, and he can choose not to turn his orange juice into a screwdriver. (Not for breakfast, anyway.) But he’s a doctor, and now he’s putting in so many shifts in the emergency room at Penzance, he faces every doctor’s daily risk of being stabbed, punched, bitten, or just so freaked out by the things he’s seen that he can’t even speak for the first couple of hours when he comes home. (And those are the hardest times. To choose me over the booze, I mean. But he does, every time. He starts to talk eventually, holds on to me so hard that he leaves bruises, and then freaks out over those and can’t stop apologising, and I know we’re through the worst of it for another night.)
And I’m in my own dangerous trade. I’m a commander now, so I mostly end up piloting the choppers or heading up our callouts from the ground. I don’t dangle off my rope over the stormy Atlantic quite so often these days. It’s still a high-risk lifestyle, though, and every day I have to make decisions to delegate that risk, to send other men and women out into the storm. Before I met Tom, I couldn’t have done it. I’d never have believed I had the right to endanger anyone but myself. And it is still tough, but with his help I’ve come to understand that I can strategise and take charge in such a way that my teams stay as safe as possible and the people I’m sending them out to rescue will stand the best chance. A calculated, loving risk…
I’d better shut up now. Here he comes. Talk about gorgeous… He must have left work in a hurry, though – he’s still got a smear of blood on his face. Either that, or the queue for Samphire Sam’s was really fierce tonight. It’s been great to see you, Hollis, and answering that question made me think about how things have changed for me, and appreciate them all the more!
This time next week – Simon has a question for Belle, Tom’s wolfhound! I’ll look forward to hearing her answer. 😀