Welcome to the Sunday blog! Gideon is answering Helena’s question this week, and it’s a good one:-
Because I’ve just re-read the Tyack & Frayne series, I’d choose one of them. I’d ask Gideon how he feels about his increasing extra-sensory powers; he was always very understanding about Lee’s but regarded him as exceptional, so is he able to be as calm about his own?
Gideon: That’s a good, tough one to answer. The short answer is no.
No, not at all. Lee’s were part and parcel of the man he is, once I got past my initial prejudices. You can’t look into those silver-green eyes and not realise he’s seeing worlds and layers of time and event wrapped around and interweaving through our day-to-day. Even when he’s at his most switched off, sharing a pint with me after work or falling asleep with Tamsyn on the sofa, I’ll sometimes see a twitch run through him, and I’ll know that something’s tugged his sleeve – some stray thought from a kid in the street, an echo or a shadow from what he calls the spiritual traffic of our home, by which he means our ordinary ghosts. Not hauntings, he says, just reverb from the countless lives that have passed here before ours. His gifts are inborn, though it took a monster to bring them online. He’s a good deckhand, a talented barkeep, an outstanding husband and father, and a psychic: plain as that. And all of it was there when I met him (the husband-and-father bit latent, of course, and how lucky are Tamsyn and I to have brought those gifts online?), so I guess that, after the astonishment an ordinary village copper would feel when faced with the unexplained, I was able to be calm about him, yes.
Anyway, I hope you won’t mind that I’ve brought you out over the fields to sit on the steps of Zeke’s chapel! It probably seems an odd venue, but this was where I got Lee back after old man Fisher tried to dislodge his soul. In a way it’s where I began to get my brother back, too. I was scared and repelled by his methods, but I realise now that Zeke’s gifts as an exorcist – or, more accurately, I think, as a retriever of souls – are less to do with Christianity, with Methodism, than they are to do with Zeke himself. Zeke commanded Lee to fight off old man Fisher and come home, and Lee did. In fact, now I look back, these steps are where Lee first told me he loved me, and we sat in the snow, holding on to each other. I suppose I feel safe here. Sarah Kemp has kidnapped Tamsie for the afternoon, and Lee’s taking Isolde for a proper walk, on vet’s orders to try and work a pound or two off her increasing middle. I told Lee I wanted to talk to Zeke, but I don’t. I just want to hear him rattling round in there, making sure the pews are mathematically aligned and knocking dust off the pulpit, or whatever the hell he gets up to between services on Sunday afternoons.
He’d pull my soul back if he had to. He wouldn’t be pleased. He’d rant and rave about the powers of the occult, and the ineptitude of clueless, Godless men who mess around with it. Then he and Lee would put their shoulders to the harness like two great big beautiful shire horses, and they would drag me home.
Why would I ever need that? To be honest, I don’t think I ever will. The things that I’ve seen – Beasts, ghosts, the projected mirage of poor little Kitto, caught in between life and death – they were all good things in their way. They meant good, at any rate: they helped me get my man. (In the way the Canadian Mounties mean it, not in the sense of persuading Lee to the registry office, although that happened too.) I could see why I had to see all those things. With a big stretch of the boundaries, they were almost in the line of duty.
When I stood in the garden of the farmhouse at Drift and watched the ghost – the echo, the reverb, whatever – of Sergeant Pendower’s girlfriend, just standing there in the sunset light with her brown hair blowing and her tulip skirt rippling around her knees, I was frightened. She wasn’t anything to do with me. If we hadn’t just got Tamsyn back, if Jago and Mrs Ivy and Zeke and my ma hadn’t been waiting for us inside, I’d have grabbed Lee and hustled him upstairs, because he has a great line in settling my perspective between the sheets. As it was, he knew I was freaked: cornered me in the kitchen while we were washing up and told me not to worry, that I’d bonded with Pendower more than I’d realised during the Dev Bowe case, that Amber had been powerfully real during her life and to see her now was natural and good.
I know that was true. The trouble is, for me, that one vision marked the beginning of what you’ve rightly called my extra-sensory powers. From then on I couldn’t explain them away or rationalise them. I don’t know what it means or why I’m waking up in this way now. I feel as if sometime in the future, very soon, I’m going to need to use these new gifts, and I don’t want to – I only want my ordinary life, because who could need more than that? Lee is teaching me the rudiments of how to shield myself, so I won’t be distracted at work, or jump up in the middle of a meeting because he’s scalded his thumb on the kettle and inadvertently shot the signal halfway across Bodmin Moor. He sits with me for hours, showing me the breathing, the meditative techniques. I’m not a good student. If I hear him breathing deeply, reaching up that lovely graceful sturdy frame of his into a big stretch, our sessions tend to end in a grunty, sweaty mess on the floor.
So I like to come here, especially now the weather’s so nice, and proximity to Zeke is great for quelling any thoughts of sex, magic or the twilight world of Lee’s gifts. I feel as if Zeke is going to become tremendously important to us all – to me, Lee and Tamsyn – very soon, and the thought makes me uneasy as well as grateful. What monsters are waiting in the wings, needing to be scared off by that grim, starchy face?
Well, enough of such thoughts. It’s good for me to define them to myself, and it’s been good for me to sit here and talk. I can see Lee making his way over the field to me now, giving a wide berth to that hawthorn tree where Zeke and I found him, curled up around the hole old man Fisher had punched in him. I can’t say that Isolde looks any slimmer for her walk, but Lee looks just about perfect: sun-burnished, intact for now in body and soul. For now I’m a man who has everything, and all I ask on top is the privilege – taken for granted by most of the rest of the world, but not by Lee, lengthening his stride anxiously as he gets close enough to see me, trying not to look as if he’s hurrying – of taking one day at a time…
Thank you, Helena, for that great question. Gideon has a lot to think about, and so do I. Interesting times ahead in Dark, and I’m looking forward to chronicling them in due course. Next week we have an intriguing query for Fenrir from Brothers of the Wild North Sea. Juliana says…
I would love to talk to Fenrir! What would I ask him? Hmm… maybe I would ask if there was anything from his old life that he missed and what he is happy to be rid of!