This week it’s Lena’s turn to meet one of the gentlemen from my books, and she’s chosen Lee. And because it’s a beautiful day, Lee in his turn has decided he’d like to chat with Lena high up on beautiful Bodmin moor, beside the enigmatic Cheesewring rocks…
Lee: I thought you might like it up here because you can get a bird’s-eye view of the whole world I share with Gid. The heart of it, anyway – Drift farmhouse is a long way away from here, right over on the far west coast. There’s Dark, though, laid out like enamelwork in the valley. You wouldn’t think a few little streets in the middle of nowhere could have held so many changes, so much adventure. Not to mention a worried police constable who, three years later, is not only a detective sergeant with CID but my lawfully wedded other half.
Come and sit down on the turf over here. It’s a bit of a suntrap, and the wind’s quite sharp even though it’s April. Gid’s going to come up and join us later for a picnic, and we can spread out this nice tartan rug, which he’s assured me has been washed since Tamsyn and Isolde shared their last messy snack session on it. It’s actually quite strange for me to talk about the village and what it means to me. Harper’s told our story from Gideon’s viewpoint so far, though I understand that might change in future.
To tell you the truth, I’d never even heard of Dark until the Truro police called me in to see if I could help find Lorna Kemp. I came along as I always did back then – expecting nothing, fearing as much as hoping that I might pick up a clue. Because it hurt so much when I did, you know? It was so very frightening, so lonely, and I didn’t understand why the bad guys had started to present themselves as monsters, terrifying apparitions I had to unmask.
Looking back, I was pretty close to the edge, although I didn’t know that at the time. My previous boyfriend Michael wasn’t the love of my life, but we’d been very good mates, and he’d helped keep me stable in his own way, even if it was just having to deal with his unwashed socks and tuneless saxophone jazz sessions. When he left, there was only the voices, and the walls of my empty flat. I knew my gift had a purpose – I’d been able to help people over and over again, and I won’t say the proceeds from my stage shows weren’t a help when the rent fell due – but I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to carry it on my own. Where it would take me, how it would end. If I’d even survive it for long.
You can see Sarah’s house down there, the little one in the middle of the terrace with the yard full of plants and the three kids romping around in the lane behind. That’s where I was when he walked in. I find myself capping him up inside my head sometimes – He, like he was God or something. (Please don’t ever tell him that. He’s pleased enough with himself as it is these days, what with his promotion and his beautiful kid and his fine life as a Cornish married man.) He thought I was the social worker, and ripped that poor lady off a strip for being a charlatan before the penny dropped and he realised the charlatan was me.
Talk about getting off on the wrong foot with someone. But the thing was, I could see how lovely he was right away, even while he was growling at me and warning me away from his friends. I didn’t need to be psychic. I just looked at him – this gorgeous rugby-player in a copper’s uniform, those brown eyes that couldn’t hide how sick with fear he was about the little girl. I felt like I’d known him forever, just in that one flash.
There’s the street I walked along to try and get my bus. I’ll admit I walked slowly. I don’t often get that kind of prescience, but that day I did know something was going to happen. Getting mauled by his mad dog, was my first thought when Isolde came barrelling after me. But she was just carrying out the will of the universe, and when Gideon caught up with me – poor Constable Frayne, pale with sleeplessness, not sure whether to see me off the premises or ask me to stay, because by then he was so desperate he was even prepared to ask a charlatan for help – something very deep inside me came to rest.
And, you know, after that, we were never far apart for very long. Can you see the long lane that leads up along the edge of the moor? That’s old Pastor Frayne’s house, where I spent my first and very memorable night in Dark. There’s Bill Prowse’s dilapidated shack, on the same street as Sarah’s house but about as huge a contrast as you could imagine, with its bare little yard and that horrendous blue-rose wallpaper visible even from here, and probably from space. Across the main road and turn right by Mrs Waite’s shop, and you’re on Pellar Street, where Granny Ragwen used to cast her spells and sell charms for good weather to the farmers. She never came home after that night in Penzance, but her daughter never worried about her, and it’s strange how like the old girl Madge looks these days, and the farmers and lovesick kids still make their way to her door. Pellar’s a very old Cornish word for a witch or a sorcerer…
Ah, and there’s our flat, or what’s left of it after Dev Bowe took it into his head to blow it up. We’re still camping out in the rooms next door, but it’s not such a big deal anymore to get it fixed. We’ve got a move in store, such an amazing change that I can’t quite believe it’s going to happen, and I’d better not tell you much more about it just now – Gid’s superstitious about revealing too much before things are finalised. As if I couldn’t tell him everything will be all right!
Eventually, anyway, and not in any way either of us could possibly have planned.
Yes, changes coming, but not today. Today is ordinary and perfect. There’s Gid now, striding across the moor to start the climb to join us here. Any second now we’ll start picking up shrieks of joy from Tamsyn, because no matter how often we bring her out here in her harness, seeing it all from the shoulders of either one of her half-deafened parents makes her hysterical with delight. And that makes Isolde start to bark, and I think I can hear the mutt already. There she is, dancing in circles… So strange, those patterns she makes around Gid and the baby, and you can only really see them from above. Do they mean something, I wonder, or is she just a fat old collie who can’t express her happiness any other way?
That’s a question for another time. He’ll be ravenous. Let’s get the sandwiches unpacked, and I’ll pour the tea.
Well, dear Lena, I hope you enjoyed that. The blog will be taking a break for the next two Sundays because I’m off to Cornwall, but I’ll be back on the 8th of May to talk to Logan Penta, who said…
Hmmm….can I ask to meet all of them?? If I have to choose, which seems so very wrong, it would be Aaron. Life After Joe was the first HF book I read and it became the bar to which all others have been measured.
I’m sure Aaron will look forward immensely to meeting you, Logan.