~It's not Over ...
One minute I am sitting on the beach in Sandy Shores mindlessly watching the waves crashing onto the beach, the next I am sitting on a plane that is landing at the airport in Cherry Hill.
I am not really sure what possessed me not to buy the ticket for the flight home, but instead to jump straight on to a plane going in the opposite direction.
It was a spur of the moment decision at the airport. While I was waiting in the queue at the ticket office I was watching the flight board and a Cherry Hill flight flashed up that was leaving Sandy Shores in one hour that still had empty seats remaining.
I didn't even have any luggage on me. I had only left the beach house with the intention of dropping into the airport to buy a ticket for a Raspberry Hill flight that I planned to catch tomorrow morning. When I saw the Cherry Hill flight flashing up on the board it gave me a better idea. When I spoke to Mango last, just over a week and a half ago now, he told me Granite has told him he is staying at home until Slate is ready for the transplant. Mango thinks the transplant is probably still a few weeks to a month away yet, depending on what other problems he has when he wakes up.
Why hang around waiting for Granite to return to Sugar Valley for the transplant, when I really don't want to be there anymore!! This way there is no need for me to ever return to Sugar Valley, only when I am ready to pack up and sell
I have been standing here on the pavement for what seems like hours, just staring at the house on the opposite side of the road in front of me. Finding it very hard to take in.
I am struggling to pluck up the courage to move my feet so that I can walk across the road and knock on the door of the house. Worried about coming face to face with Granite again and especially how he will react to me after everything that Gravel has told me that he has said. I am also worried about what seeing his face in front of me might do to me again, seeing anything but love in his eyes is going to cripple me!!
This somehow doesn't seem like the kind of place that he would live!! The house, the address of which I had found quite easily out of the telephone directory, is situated in a really posh well to do area. The street is deadly quiet, expensive cars on all the driveways, all the lawns perfectly manicured not a blade of grass is out of place, not a weed or spec of rubbish anywhere for the eye to see, everything is just so clean and perfect. The kind of place you would have to be minted to live in. This is so not Granite!!
There are two identical expensive brown cars sitting on the drive in two different shades of brown, a very good sign that two brown people at least live in the house. However, I am standing here trying to convince myself that this is the wrong address - he is not flash - this can't be where he lives!! I suppose Mace could be the one with the money, while he was in my face threatening me I did notice he walks around in designer label clothes and smelt like a bottle of expensive aftershave, and that ring of his, that scratched my neck, would probably sink him to the bottom of the ocean.
My phone irritates me when it starts ringing because I have forgotten to turn it off. Gravel's name flashes up on the screen. I cut it straight off, irritated that he, like everyone else, still haven't taken the hint that I just want to be left alone. Every day when I turn on my phone to call Intensive Care to check on Slate I'm bombarded with hundreds of miss calls, messages and texts, mainly from Mango, Bay, Turmeric, Gravel, Meadow, Cinnamon, and a few other numbers that I don't know. I don't know what their problem is!!
I scroll through my contacts list and stare down at the telephone number that I've put into my phone that is listed at this house under Granites name. I laugh for a moment, this kind of confirms that Gravel never bothered to look for Granite. After all he never really wanted Granite to be found, did he, so that he could keep his dirty secret just between the two of us!! If he did find Granite, then he definitely kept it hidden from me.
Maybe it's me who has got it wrong, after all, even though I could only find one Granite Rock in the Cherry Hill telephone directory, it doesn't mean that there is only one living here, maybe my Granite just isn't listed in the directory, because he didn't want to be found. I laugh at myself again for stupid thinking - this has to be it!! Mango found his number from the telephone directory. It is just this house, it's thrown me!! I glance at the house again, I still need to check this place just doesn't seem right. I go to push dial on my phone and hold my breath as my finger hovers over Granites number - I just can't do it. If he is going to tell me he hates me and to get lost, I'd rather he did it to my face!! Even though I never want to, I know, I have to see the hate in his eyes if I'm ever going to get over him!!
My phone starts ringing again, Gravel! I hit the off button and shout 'get lost' at my phone as I switch it off and stuff it back into my pocket.
I stand and stare at the house again wandering if he is inside it. I hoped to see some sign of movement in the house but there isn't any. There are cars on the drive, that is usually a good sign that there should be somebody home.
Suddenly I lose my nerve, I can't do this!! I am all set to leave and walk away, thinking how stupid have I been to even come here. I doubt he'd want to see me anyway, after everything that Gravel has told me. I expect he's just going to slam the door in my face, that's if his guard dog Mace doesn't set about me again first!!
My head is swimming all over the place and I can't decide what to do for the best, which is unlike me, to be so indecisive!! One of these days I might just make my mind up, but when it comes to Granite it is very hard!!! Maybe I should just write him a letter, it will be a lot less painful! This way I don't have to see his face or hear his voice, which I know are just going to turn me into a pathetic blabbering idiot right in front of him. I think that is what I am more scared of, making a fool of myself in front of him when he blatantly doesn't care anymore and I'm still hurting!!
I have quite a few things he needs to know, but I guess in view of what Gravel has told me is going on in Gran's life, there is only one thing that he really needs to know now ... that Slate is his son and that the April fools joke that Gravel pulled on him was a lot more than it was cracked up to be. Everything else, like him being away for the last twenty years for nothing, there is really no point in him knowing now, it's not like it is going to make a difference to us now.
As I start to walk away from the house I notice there is now a woman walking up the driveway of the house towards the front door. This makes me stop and watch her, thinking that if she knocks on the door I might see who answers the door to her, I seriously need to know that the address that I have for him is correct before I go writing any stupid letters!!
The woman doesn't knock on the door, instead she is opening the door with a key. This throws me. She stops inside the doorway, making it obvious that she has noticed me, as she stands there holding the door slightly ajar as she watches me cautiously watching her. She looks a little worried so I decide to go over to speak to her. I'm curious, if this is where Granite lives, why would an orange woman be going into the house using a key? Granite doesn't do women very well, women irritate him to distraction, he struggles to live with them. Living with my sister used to drive him mad, I think Amber is the only women that I've ever known him hack, but even still he couldn't live with her.
The woman standing in the doorway is now watching me worriedly walking up the path to the front door, so I smile at her as I approach, I wander if she thinks I have been standing over the road casing the joint.
The woman doesn't smile back at me as I approach, she still looks worried. As soon as I am standing in front of her I tell her that I'm looking for someone and this is the address that I've been given, but am not sure if it is correct. She just continues to frown at me but doesn't say anything.
I tell her that I'm looking for a Granite Rock and I show her an old photograph of him, which I pull out of my wallet. She smiles at me after she's looked at the photograph and passes it back to me, as I ask her if this is where he lives. She smiles at me when she confirms that I do have the correct address and this is indeed where Granite lives. I notice that she no longer appears to be worried by my presence anymore, more like amused.
When I came across the road to speak to her I was thinking that I would just check that this is the correct address for Granite then just leave and write him the letter. If I do that now she might find it a little strange if I just walk away without asking if he's in. I'm standing here now so ...
"I'm an old friend of Granites from Sugar Valley. I was in town so I thought I'd drop in on the off chance that I could see him." she looks at me through squinted eyes then starts laughing suddenly.
"I'm afraid Granite isn't here right now." she says to me awkwardly. So I ask her what time he might be back, I presume he is probably out at work. In a way I'm relieved he is not in, it gives me the opportunity to escape with out seeing him and I can still just write him that letter. She completely throws me with what she says. "I think you had better come in Forrest."
She stands there laughing at me as she opens the door wide for me to go into the house. I'm a little confused by her saying my name because I don't actually remember telling her my name, or did I?! I must have done. I step inside the house nervously, the smell of Mace's aftershave smacks me in the face as I stand in the hallway. What does he do bath in it?! I would now know that smell anywhere, I nearly choked on it when he had me round the throat outside the hospital. I hope to Berry he isn't here!!
As I stand in the hallway, the woman tells me that It is just a very good job Mace isn't around right now. She is not sure he would be too pleased to see me of all people here!! I am very relieved that Mace isn't here, I could do without the headache!! However, she has really started to confuse me now.
"You are HIM aren't you! Forrest Rock, the guy who is still married to Granite."
I stand staring at her wide eyed, a little shocked and very puzzled as to how she would even know who I am and especially my name, because I swear I didn't tell her!! She tells me that her name is Marigold and she is their cleaning lady. I have to ask her how she knows who I am.
"Well you did just show me a photograph with the two of you on it." she laughs at me, silly me, yes I did, but that still doesn't tell her exactly who I am does it!! "Besides Granite has one just like it that he used to hide from Mace in his wardrobe, but he keeps it in his wallet now so Mace says."
She laughs at me again as I just stand there frowning at her. I am trying to work out why if Granite now hates me, why would he still have a photograph of me and keep it in his wallet when he is living and in love with Mace?! It is not exactly the normal thing to do!? After she has closed the front door she picks up the mail off the doormat and puts it into a neat pile on the sideboard, with some other. A pile of unopened mail, that is not a good sign.
Marigold tells me to follow her into the kitchen so I do, I'm not even sure why, I'm beginning to wander what the point is of me being here. I guess curiosity is keeping me here. We walk out of the hall and into a really nice living room then through into a kitchen that nearly knocks me over when we walk into it. This seriously is so not Granite, this has got to be Mace!!
Marigold really makes me laugh when she tells me that I am nothing like how she expected me to be, and how funny it is that you build a picture of somebody up in your head and they are never how you imagined them when they are stood in front of your face. I don't even know how she would know anything about me, let alone who I am, so I ask, fed up of being confused by her.
"I'm quite close to Mace, not so much Granite, he's generally a closed book that one, and I don't see as much of him as Mace!" she starts laughing "Mace uses my shoulder to cry on quite often, he tells me a lot of things. He gets upset quite a lot because of you and they are always CONSTANTLY fighting because of you, mainly due to Granite who never stops talking about you!! There are three people in their relationship, Granite, Mace and your ghost." she smiles at me.
She asks me if I want a coffee, I tell her no sugar and sit down on one of the stools close by, a little dumb struck. I am surprised and puzzled by what she told me, and that she is talking to me so openly. I quietly watch her making coffee, while I try to make some sense of what she has just said - it's been twenty years, he's moved on, I should be long forgotten by now!!
It amuses me that Granite would even have a cleaning lady, I bet it kills him to pay her wages!! He always used to say to me why buy a dog when you can bark yourself and probably better. I remember the fuss he kicked up once when I got us a window cleaner, first he didn't like how much he was charging us every week, the second time he cleaned our windows Gran saw a smear and that was it, I think the window cleaner was too scared to step foot near our house again!! I laugh at the memory.
"I'm afraid you have had a wasted journey Forrest. Granite and Mace flew back to Sugar Valley about five days ago."
She smiles at me as I start laughing at myself. I'm an idiot!! Why didn't I think to check with Bay or Mango to see if they are back before I came out here. I haven't actually spoken to anyone from home for over a week, now I know I should have done!! I really didn't expect Granite to have returned back to Sugar Valley yet.
I just sit drinking the coffee quietly that Marigold has put in front of me, while I'm deep in thought trying to work out what I'm going to do next. Stay in Cherry Hill somewhere tonight then go home I guess and get Granite told. A letter is no good now, he needed to know before he went back to Sugar Valley, if I leave a letter here it will be months before he reads it. I'm a little narked that I'll now have to dodge Gravel to get to him, but then I do now have his telephone number so I guess it won't be so hard. Maybe I should phone him instead and just go back to Sandy Shores then there is no need for me to return to Sugar Valley.
"I hope you didn't come out here especially!!" Marigold says snapping me out of my thoughts. She has sat down directly opposite me drinking her own coffee and just watching me.
"Kind of yeah!! There are some important things we really need to discuss that I can't put off any longer." I smile at her and she rolls her eyes at me again because now I bet she must think I'm a right idiot. "I was told they wouldn't be returning to Sugar Valley until the transplant so I thought he would still be here"
"They went back early, I'm not really sure why. Granite has been a little off his head lately so I was surprised when I came in to a note the other day and they had already left" she smiles at me over the top of her coffee cup. "I am very surprised you would even come out here looking for Granite after the things he has been telling me this past few weeks" she frowns at me.
"Is he back on the booze or drugs?" I ask not really listening to much else of what she had said after she mentioned that Granite has been off his head lately. She looks really confused!
"Booze and Drugs!? Berry No!! Not Granite!! He has been very upset, hauled up in his room breaking his heart ... it's what you have done to him!"
Now I am the one really confused!!
What?! I sit just frowning at her as she drinks her coffee. I haven't seen or spoken to Granite for over twenty years so what exactly am I supposed to have done to him? I am beginning to wander if she is not a crazy woman. Since I've stepped foot in this house nothing that she has said has really made any sense!! So I ask her what I'm supposed to have done to Granite..
"Your red boyfriend, being in love with someone else, getting married, moving out of town just because he went back there, the things you've said about him to his brother, especially about you hating him ... you know all that stuff." she rolls her eyes at me disapprovingly.
"I'm sorry no, I seriously don't have a clue what you are on about!!" I frown at her "That is all rubbish and I definitely don't have a red boyfriend and I definitely don't hate him!!"
"Really?! Well that is what his brother has been telling him." she frowns at me in a strange way because I start laughing to myself. I really can't get past the red guy. "He thought his brother was joking until he saw you with your red guy outside the hospital, he had his arm around you. Granite told me that's what totally cracked him up!! Mace had to bring him home, he was in a right state!!"
Red! Oh Berry I think Granite knows me much better than that!! How can he even think or believe that ... I HATE the colour red with a passion, and he knows that!! I would need to be colourblind or blind to live with a red guy!! Any guy!! Where the hell would he even get that from, wait, she did just say his brother told him didn't she!! Gravel!! I might have known!!
Me with a red guy outside the hospital??!! I suddenly realize what Granite has seen. The day I was upset by what Gravel had told me about Granite and I was outside the hospital with Cardinal waiting for Mango to come down to take me to Meadows. I had heard Gravel shouting after Granite outside the hospital and I spun round and watched him running out of the car park. Instinctively I tried to run after him. Gravel had jumped on me and prevented me from chasing after him, he even stood there and let Mace set about me which I thought was odd and especially the look they exchanged afterwards, it was almost smug!!
I suddenly feel sick and wander if Gravel is up to his old tricks again. I think it looks obvious that he has been lying to Granite about me!! Anyway, why the hell would Granite be upset over me being with someone else when he has Mace?!
I am just about to ask her if she knows exactly what Gravel has been telling Granite when I hear a male voice swearing loudly from another room which distracts me. A brown man suddenly bursts into the kitchen carrying a few shopping bags, swearing about the handles breaking on him. He doesn't see me at first as he struggles over to the fridge and dumps the bags down onto the floor in front of it while he's huffing and puffing. When he does spot me he just stands there staring at me in a strange way.
"So who is your friend Mari?" he says frowning at the cleaning lady. She laughs.
"You'll never guess!!"
She smirks at the brown man as she stands up pushes him to one side and starts to unpack the shopping and put it away in the fridge and cupboards. The brown guy frowns at me then before he gets annoyed with the cleaning lady and tells her to stop playing games because he's not a mind reader!!
"Oh Fudge Berry!!" the brown man starts laughing hysterically as he stands there and looks me up and down almost like he's inspecting me, which really starts to get my back up!! Marigold is also laughing with him. "Oh pal, it is just a very good job that Mace is not here right now, or he would be chasing you out of town with a carving knife or a baseball bat!!" he continues to laugh "Oh Berry!! He would have a right hissy fit if he knew Granite's hubby is sitting in his kitchen right now!"
The brown guy continues to laugh, as does Marigold, he is doubled over holding his stomach. They both seem to think this is all highly amusing, but I don't, as I sit here now becoming highly annoyed as well as sick of all this confusion!! I am not confused by what he is saying about Mace, because I can understand that Mace doesn't like me because I'm Granites ex. I've already had him snarling in my face on the hospital car park warning me quite nastily that he'd fade me if he sees me anywhere near Granite again. I'm wandering who this guy is, how does he also know who I am so easily, just by what the cleaning lady has just said, and what is this HIM all about?!
I have finished my coffee so I automatically get up to wash up my cup. I've seriously had enough of this madness, I really don't know what I'm still doing here!! I am beginning to think Cherry Hill is full of crazy people, Mace didn't look all the ticket either! I think it's time I left.
When I turn away from the sink, the brown guy is standing right behind me. I nearly walk into him as he stands there and holds out his hand to me, he has now stopped laughing and is smiling at me sheepishly.
"I'm sorry! I am Atlas, Mace's best mate, and I'm kind of a friend of Granites." I think he can see he has hacked me off!!
"I'm Forrest, but then I guess you already know my name, seeing as I seem to be the joke around here!" I snap at him as I shake his hand half heartedly. "I think maybe it's time I was leaving!!"
"No man ... stay!! You can't run off now!! I am sorry if you thought I, we were being rude! It is just the shock of you actually being here, we never would have expected it!!" he smiles at me. "I was laughing thinking more about how Mace would be reacting to you being here."
I feel a little awkward about hanging around, especially as he is Mace's best mate, but think I might stay for a little while longer just out of curiosity. What the cleaning lady has said is playing on my mind and I'd like to get to the bottom of it and I'm never going to do that if I walk away now.
Atlas tells me that he is house sitting for them while they are away for the next few months doing the kidney thing. He only lives four doors down, and is still living with his parents like the big kid that he is, his words not mine. I am a little amused when he tells me that he did try lodging here for a while, years ago, but he couldn't hack it. Mace and Granite drove him insane with the way they constantly fight and go at each other!
Atlas asks me what I'm doing all out here because he thought that I lived in Sugar Valley and presumed that I would have known that Granite and Mace are there. So I have to explain to him, that I have some important stuff that I need to discuss with Granite and I do live in Sugar Valley, but have been away and didn't realize that they had gone back to Sugar Valley already, or I would have just gone straight home instead of making this wasted journey like an idiot. When I tell him I've been to Sandy Shores he starts laughing suddenly.
"That figures! That place is a swear word around here!! Is Sandy Shores your favourite place by any chance?"
I tell him that it is and he starts laughing as I frown at him.
He starts to tell me that Granite took Mace there on holiday a few years back. It all kicked off and they weren't there a day when Mace came storming back here on his own in a right fowl mood. Mace is a bit of a drama queen apparently and something went on that upset him. Granite stayed out in Sandy Shores on his own for the whole two weeks which made it worse and after he returned home Granite and Mace didn't speak for over a month after that. Atlas knew it had something to do with me, but he's not sure exactly what, because he gets fed up of hearing about their drama's so he tries not to ask too many questions if Mace doesn't fill him in on all the details straight away.
This amuses me a little, not only that Gran has been out to Sandy Shores but already from a few comments that Atlas has made, it sounds like they must argue a lot. Granite doesn't do or like arguments. He usually tells you exactly what he thinks in a long winded way, you can't usually get a word in edgeways, then he strops off. I always used to have to jump on him and pin him down to have my say. We never argued, just the occasional bickering. I wander if he really is happy now?
The cleaning lady has now left the kitchen, she disappears without a word after she has finished putting away the shopping and I hear a vacuum cleaner going in another room. Atlas opens the fridge and starts to prepare some food, asking me if I want to stay for something to eat.
I find it a little strange that he should be so friendly towards me if he is Mace's best mate and only kind of a friend of Granites. He asks me where I'm staying and I tell him that I haven't sorted any accommodation out yet and ask him if he can point me in the direction of a decent hotel or motel in this town.
"I guess you could always crash here, there are two spare bedrooms." he says as he smiles at me which shocks me "I know Mace won't be too impressed when he finds out, he'll probably kill me, but its not his house and I doubt Granite would mind. I know he'd never throw you out, he'd probably lock you in more like!!" he laughs for a moment "You are still married to him after all so technically I guess half of this house is yours anyway by law isn't it?"
"I'm not sure it quite works like that." I laugh at him for a moment "So this is Granites house? Not Mace's?" I ask curiously but also wander what he meant by lock me in?!
He tells me that this is Granites house. He moved in here about six or seven years ago now he thinks. Granite used to live over on the council estate when he first moved to Cherry Hill, and Atlas met him a few times back then because Granite is actually a friend of his oldest brother, they both go to a counseling group together because of their drink problem. He spotted this house up for sale when he came round to see Atlas's brother four doors down and decided to buy it. Mace only moved in about five years as a lodger, and just rented a room until Granite and Mace started with their stupid 'mates who shag' thing and Mace started to try and get his claws into Gran.
Mates who shag?! I frown at Atlas but he doesn't notice as he has turned his back to me and is hovering over the cooker to check on what he is cooking.
Five years? I'm sure Gravel said ten years to me. That is another lie isn't it!!
I stand and stare around the fitted kitchen that looks like it's just come out of a showroom and must have cost a packet. As I stare down at the expensive marble looking tiles on the floor I wandering what Gran now does for a living and where he got the money from to buy this house. Why would he even buy a three bed roomed house like this, in such a posh area, which seriously isn't him. Contradicting everything that he kicked up a fuss about when we bought our house together!! He was quite happy with the one room hut that Bayleaf now lives in. It took me weeks to talk him into buying a bigger place and the only thing that made him cave in, in the end was having extra bedrooms for my family to stay when they came to visit.
Gran is a tight ass where money is concerned, he hates spending it and would rather live in a cardboard box that he wouldn't even want to decorate, he would much rather hoard his money in piles and leave it to smell of mothballs. Well at least that is how he used to be before he started drinking and taking drugs. I seriously need to stop this ... twenty years have flown by and he is probably a completely different person by now. He is if what Gravel has told me is true and this house is anything to go by!! However, because of what the cleaning woman has said, I am now beginning to think if Gravel has been lying to Granite about me, I am guessing he must have been lying to me about Granite.
I ask Atlas what he does for a living because I'm starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the silence. I am really not sure if I should even be here or if he really wants me here. I feel seriously awkward even being in the place where Granite now lives with Mace. Atlas turns and smiles at me
"I work at the bistro, I'm a chef." he smiles at me again "And you're one of those head and nerve surgeons like Granite aren't you, Mace told me."
"What?!" I'm a little shocked. Did he seriously just say that Granite is a surgeon!? "I'm a Neurosurgeon ... What did you say Granite does?"
"Neurosurgeon that's it!! Granite is a Neurosurgeon like you." he frowns at the shock on my face as I stand with my mouth literally hanging open. "Did you not know?"
I shake my head. I'm shocked! I ask him if he is sure that is what Granite does for a living. Hell, he never showed any interest in medicine when he was with me. Granite loves children and did actually want to go into some sort of teaching job, that was until the booze and drugs took over and he didn't want to do anything else but that in the end. He has a very high IQ, even though you would never think it the way he behaved back then!! Atlas stands laughing at the expression on my face.
"Yeah, Gran works at the hospital here in Cherry Hill, he's the Head Neurosurgeon, he's not long been promoted. Mace is always bragging to everyone about Gran's job, he's also very narked by the fact that you both are into exactly the same thing work wise."
Now I am totally knocked off my feet. How would Mace know what job I do? I wouldn't even expect Granite to know what job I do now as I was only a medical intern when he left and I wasn't even sure at that time which direction I wanted to go, Mango dragged me into Neurology. What shocks me most is that Granite is higher up the ladder than I am, not that I can get any higher because Mango is permanently parked in the Head's job. How the hell did he manage that!! He must have worked damn hard after he left prison. This makes me really smile, he really has pulled himself together!! It also explains where the money has come from.
Hell Granite could actually work it out for himself that Slate is his son, being a doctor he has the means and knowledge to do it!!! I was half expecting Mango to work it out, he has already got a bee in his bonnet over Gravels compatibility test showing unusual results for a supposed parent. They only need to see Amber's blood group and either of them could quite easily work it out.
"So what does Mace do work wise?" I ask him thinking he probably works at the hospital too and trying not to let the conversation go awkwardly silent again.
"Oh he is a jammy git, he doesn't do anything. He's a kept bitch, he stays home all day and plays housewife, I've had to teach him how to cook. He is also the jammiest housewife I've ever known! He has a cleaner who comes in nearly every day, a window cleaner and a gardener that do half of his jobs for him!! Granite is constantly kicking off over having to pay all three of them!"
This really makes me laugh out loud, he hasn't changed in that respect then!! Atlas starts laughing quietly at me when I mumble about him still being tight arsed, as he checks on the food he's cooking.
"I am cooking French Toast, I take it that is okay with you." He laughs again then smirks at me "It is your favourite isn't it?"
"How the hell would you even know that?!" I stare at him thinking I am going mad, this doesn't make sense!
"Mace." he rolls his eyes "Mace refuses to cook French Toast, especially for Granite, because it is your favourite." he laughs "Sometimes he can be so childish!!"
"Mace seems to know a hell of a lot about me!!" I snap because I'm sick of hearing his name already and I wander how he would even know that. Atlas just laughs at me as he hands me a plate of food and we both sit down and start to eat.
Atlas tells me that Mace knows quite a lot about me, but only because Granite talks about me all the time even still, and way too much!! He laughs as he tells me that I am Mace's specialist subject, his pet hate!!
"Although I can quite understand why he hates you, because I know exactly how it feels!" he starts mumbling through a mouthful of food. "Mace does exactly the same thing to me without even realizing it half the time! He is constantly banging on about Granite doing it to him while he is doing exactly the same thing to me .... which drives me mad!!" This guy is seriously not making any sense to me now!!
"I'm sorry, you have totally lost me now, you need to explain that to me in English!!" he rolls his eyes at me
"Mace is my best mate, but, I like Mace ... a lot!! I want it to be more than just mates and he knows exactly how I feel about him but he is not interested in me because he loves Granite. We fell out a few months back because I kissed him, he slapped me and we didn't speak for months, we've only just made up, but things still aren't right between us, he is ignoring my calls and hasn't phoned me once since he's been away, normally he never stops phoning me. You know Granite has given Mace free range to sleep with other guys, but Mace won't even kiss anyone else let alone sleep with them. Mace can not see anything but Granite and he continuously bangs on about Granite and rubs him in my face until it drives me crazy when truthfully, I'm sick of hearing Granites name, I hate the guy!! No offense!"
Atlas holding his hand up and looking a little embarrassed, probably for slagging Granite off to me. I am beginning to wander what sort of crazy relationship Mace and Granite have actually got, why would Granite give Mace free range to sleep with other guys?!
"Granite is probably okay if I got to know him properly, but I don't really want to because he's always there in my ear and face!! He is in my way if you know what I mean, like you are in Mace's way." How am I in Mace's way?! Atlas waves his fork at me "It is not like Granite even deserves him or treats him right either!! Granite seriously treats him badly, he uses him and it gets my back right up when I would treat him way better!! Especially as Mace can't see what Granite is doing and defends him and makes excuses for Granite's behaviour all the time!!"
"So what does that have to do with Mace hating me so much?" I ask still a little confused by what he's telling me. I am beginning to wander if this guy isn't on drugs the way he's rambling and so freely to a perfect stranger. "How does Gran use him?"
"He uses him for sex. Mace gives him sex and Gran supports him financially. Prostitute and Pimp is what I call them!! Mace has told me it's not even good sex either, Granite treats him like a dirty whore, it's 'get on the floor bitch', wham bam thank you mam then gives him $5,000 a month to waste!! If you ask me it's abuse! I've told Mace he is nothing more than Granite's dirty prostitute, but he won't listen!!"
He asks me if that is how Granite used to treat me as he frowns at me and I just sit shaking my head in denial while I'm choking on the food that is now stuck in the back of my throat.
"Granite riles me up so much because of the way he uses Mace, I want to hurt him!" he stares at me and laughs a moment "You know what, you are quite cute! I'd love to drag you into his bed and jump your bones and rub it right in Granites face, that would teach him and hurt him!!"
He says it all so casually and I start seriously choking on my food again. I'm not sure what shocks me most, the sex part or the money that Granite is giving Mace, or the fact that he just said he would love to jump me!! He doesn't even give me a chance to clear my throat to say anything before he's off rabbiting again. This guy is crazy!!
"And if you wanna know why Mace hates you so much ... "
Atlas explains that Granite constantly rubs me in Mace's face. He throws me at Mace all the time especially in arguments. Granite openly compares Mace to me all the time - and anything that Mace does, I can do much better. Even when Mace tells Granite that he loves him, Granite tells Mace that he does not because he doesn't love him like I used to!! Gran continuously makes Mace feel worthless, unlovable and like crap!! They constantly fight because of me and Mace is always getting upset!!
"You are up there with the gods to hear Granite talking! According to him you have no faults!" he laughs and points his fork at me. "Granite is pathetic, he still wears his wedding ring rubbing Mace's face in it and carries your picture around in his wallet, plus he's got a ring and key on a chain round his neck that Mace swears has something to do with you because Granite goes ballistic if Mace even tries to touch them."
I see him look at my hand and he frowns for a moment then laughs and rolls his eyes before he carries on eating, as I sit there now not eating just staring into space trying to take in what he's said about the rings and the photo. The cleaning lady mentioned the photo in his wallet so I wasn't so surprised by Atlas repeating it. Granite is still wearing his wedding ring! Why? I laugh at the key on a chain round his neck, that's where he always used to keep his front door key, when we were together, because otherwise he would just lose it, not that he ever used to use the damn key. When he was off his head on booze and drugs he used to come in through the window, usually after he'd smashed it to get in. I guess he must still have the key on a chain habit, there is no way after twenty years he would still have our front door key around his neck. I have no idea what the ring might be - unless he still has his engagement ring.
"It's seriously stupid, Granite has told Mace since day one that he does not love him and will never love him, but Mace is stupid enough to stay here and take the abuse. Mace knows if Granite gets the slightest opportunity he would run straight back to you and dump him like a tonne of bricks. Mace stays because he loves Granite and THINKS he can make Granite fall in love with him, while Granite still loves you and never lets Mace forget that for a second!! They are both as tapped as each other!" My head is now spinning as he sits there laughing.
I drop my fork on my plate, I feel sick and my head is really spinning from what he's just said about Granite not loving Mace and still loving me. Atlas looks at me in confusion for a moment before he continues eating his food. I think I now definitely know that Gravel has seriously been lying to me about Granite.
I tell Atlas that he is seriously confusing me and he frowns at me and asks me why. I have to explain to him that Granites brother, has been telling me things that seriously contradict what he is saying about Granite and his boyfriend and their relationship, and that cleaning woman said a few things that confused me too.
"Mate, it isn't a relationship, Mace isn't even officially Granites boyfriend, like I've said before they are just 'mates who shag' it's a joke!!" he tuts "I seriously wish I could put a stop to it, because it is slowly destroying Mace!"
He starts to get quite worked up as he is tell me that their 'relationship' is totally one sided and one thing inside this house but something totally different to the outside world. Other than Marigold, the cleaning lady and Granites best mate, he is the only person that knows the truth about Granite and Mace's relationship because Mace tells him everything because it's his shoulder that Mace cries on all the time. I laugh because he also uses the cleaning ladies shoulder, he must do a lot of crying!!
Outside this house everyone thinks they are just a normal gay couple in love, because of the front and act that Mace puts up and Granite plays along with it for a quiet life, but they are far from the couple that everyone thinks they are - it's all a total farce. Atlas says he has been trying to knock some sense into Mace for years but he's not listening and he's letting this joke of a relationship destroy him.
My head is reeling from what he sits telling me, but it is also making me smile, I'd much rather be hearing this than what Gravel told me!! Atlas says that Mace has forced the situation into what it is now because he does genuinely love Granite, whereas Granite still loves me. There relationship started just as a sex thing, Granite saying he never wanted to get into a relationship with anyone. Mace has always known about Granite still being in love with me but he was stupid enough to go and fall in love with Granite. Over the years its drifted into what it is, they do actually now play house together, they look from the outside like they are a couple but they are not. In Granite's head Mace will always just be the lodger that he shags and Mace is always playing games to try and reel Granite in but it's not happening other than in a material sense.
All the things that he sits there telling me are quite the opposite of what Gravel told me and blowing my head to pieces. Mace is not even officially Granites boyfriend, they are not in love, they are not getting married, Granite doesn't hate me - he still loves me!!
"They had to come back here three weeks ago because Gran was on the verge of having a breakdown when his brother told him all the stuff about you hating him and your new boyfriend and about you being madly in love and are planning to get re-married." he starts really laughing then "It kind of serves him right finding all this stuff out because now he is seriously hurting! Now he knows what the pain feels like that he's been putting Mace through all these years!! You know the twat actually thought after all this time you would still love him - I'm not sure who lives in cloud cuckoo land more, Granite or Mace!!" he stops eating then and frowns at me "So why are you here exactly? ... I guess you must be here to sort out your divorce if you are planning to get re-married?"
I just sit there in a daze.
"You okay? You've gone a funny colour and you're not eating!!" Atlas frowns at me when I just sit there, not answering his question and staring into space while my mind is doing somersaults.
"No I'm not alright!! I think I get what is going on here now!! Granites brother has been lying to Granite about me just like he has been lying to me about Granite. He is STILL trying to keep us apart with his lies .... because I don't have a new boyfriend, I am not getting re-married and I definitely don't hate Granite. ... and Gran is actually right, I do still love him - I've sat like an idiot waiting for him to come home for the past twenty years."
Atlas starts to really choke on his food as he sits there and stares at me.
"What the hell!!" he has the weirdest expression on his face "You are joking with me right?!" I shake my head "The way Gran acts I always presumed that you had dumped him from a great height and he's never got over it!!!" he laughs quietly then starts to look really embarrassed "Hell you should have told me this from the beginning, then I wouldn't have said half of the things I've said, I presumed with him being your ex, you would have your gripes with him and hate him as much as I do!!"
I ask him if he knows what Gravel has been telling Granite and he sits and tells me everything that he's heard over the past three weeks, then I sit telling him all the lies that Gravel has been telling me. Atlas has hysterics when I tell him that according to Gravel, Granite and Mace are madly in love and Gran is happier with Mace than he's ever been with me. Gravel has basically told me and Granite the same lie, when the truth for us both is exactly the opposite of the lies he has been telling us!!
"You know I didn't even know Granite had a brother until this kidney thing popped up! I've heard plenty over the years about you but never his brother!!" he starts laughing "I really don't get it, if you still love him and he still loves you after all this time, why the hell have you two been apart for the past twenty years?"
"It's complicated and I really don't want to talk about it!!"
Atlas just smiles at me then goes back to eating his french toast quietly. I stare down at my plate, not sure I can even eat it. I feel sick, wandering if I can even trust what this guy has been saying. I think I'd rather trust him even if he is a perfect stranger rather than anything that Gravel has told me. He keeps smiling at me and he is starting to make me feel a little uncomfortable.
"I seriously need to ask you, what is with your ears?" he says which makes me laugh because it has been years since anyone has asked me that question.
Yeah I know they are odd! So I explain to him that I inherited my ears, unfortunately, from my Mother, they have run through her side of the family for generations. It is said that in our distant past there was an elf or fairy somewhere, but these ears have only ever run down the female line in the past so me being male and having them, I'm a total oddball. he laughs for a moment, I presume at the elf or fairy thing because not many people believe that the fairy tale stuff could be a reality. I'm not even sure I believe it myself, but it's what I've always been told by my parents and grandparents.
"Oddball, you think you are an oddball!" he laughs "I'll show you oddball! You and me actually make a right pair!!"
I frown at him as I watch him put down his fork and starts messing with his eyes. I don't realize what he is doing at first, then I see he is taking out his contacts. He sits and stares at me when his two brown contacts are sitting by his place. My eyes widen as I try to take in the colour of his eyes. He has one blue eye and one orange eye. I start laughing as he puts his brown contacts back in.
He tells me that he gets a little sick of the way people are constantly staring at his eyes all the time, even people who he's known all his life, so it is just easier to cover them up, even living in a colour mix town!! His Mother's side of the family are all pure brown berries. His Father is a mixed orange and blue berry, so he has inherited an eye from each of his Grandparents on his Father's side. He laughs at himself and I laugh with him. I have seen many things in my time, especially at the hospital, but I've never seen anything that bizarre before! I thought that Mango's four were genetic oddities with their colourless eyes but his eyes kind of beat that!!
"My ex girlfriend used to freak out big time, I had to constantly wear my contacts, I think that's why we broke up in the end, she couldn't hack my eyes!"
"Girlfriend? I thought you was gay when you said you liked Mace!" I frown at him
"Yeah, told you I am an oddball - I'm bi, male or female it doesn't really matter to me!! I guess I've got the best of both worlds!!" he smirks at me.
He then makes me laugh when he says if he had met me on the street he would not have guessed I was gay, I don't come across as gay, like Granite doesn't. He asks me if I am strictly gay like Granite and Mace and I tell him I'm not sure, because truthfully I'm not. Women do catch my eye sometimes, but I've just never been there and the thought of going there doesn't gross me out like it grosses Granite out.
"You are nothing like Mace and I can see why Granite would prefer you!" he says suddenly. "You are actually really cute, there is something about you that is very infectious."
I've stood up to clean away the plates. I am not quite sure what he means by what he has just said, or which way to take it, especially after what he said earlier about jumping me. I'm not sure if he's being genuine or if it's just a game he's playing to get back at Granite for having what he wants, Mace. I feel like I need to say something!!
"Before you even start, if you are trying or planning to hit on me for whatever reason - don't bother!!" I frown at him "I'm not interested, and it's not you, there has only ever been Granite and that's the way I want to keep it!!"
After we have cleaned up the kitchen silently, we move into the living room.
Atlas apologizes for what happened in the kitchen and said it wouldn't happen again. I told him I thought it's time I was leaving anyway, but he insisted on me staying here overnight instead of wasting money in a hotel. I have already checked and there are no flights back to Sandy Shores or Raspberry Hill until tomorrow. I feel a little uneasy about even staying here so I don't know why I agreed to it.
We sit for hours just talking about rubbish, we move the conversation away from Granite and Mace and start to talk about us and general stuff. After the incident in the kitchen which we seem to both be forgetting about, I have started to relax again and even forget for a while where I actually am, sitting in Granites house with his shag buddies best mate. This is not exactly where I expected to be this morning when I woke up!!
Regardless of the incident earlier in the kitchen, I am really beginning to like Atlas, he's easy to talk to and I could actually see me being good friends with him if the circumstances were different, but I guess once I leave here I'll never see him again.
I make a comment about Cherry Hill looking so much different and better than Sugar Valley and how surprised I am. I thought that with them both being colour mix towns they would both be as run down and shunned by the colour coded world, as each other. Atlas frowns at me and asks me what Sugar Valley is like? He says that Granite has really wanted to go 'home' for years, he has said that he has never really like living here and Atlas just wandered what the fascination was with Sugar Valley? It surprises me a little knowing that Granite has wanted to come home for years, I'm wandering why he didn't.
I tell him, No fascination really probably other than it is where he was born and grew up, and it being 'home' for him I guess, because Sugar Valley is actually a shit hole!! Granite used to say that all the time himself more than most. I explain to him that its a very small uneventful, unattractive town, there is nothing there, we get very few tourists there, it's not often we see a strange face in town, hence the one grotty motel. I tell him that what Ive seen of Cherry Hill town itself so far, this place is way better visually, Sugar Valley is a total dump in comparison, but the people in Sugar Valley, I doubt any town on the planet would beat them. We all know each other and are basically like one huge family that look out for each other, well most of us!
Atlas laughs at me and says surely the town itself can't be that bad! The way Granite talks about the place you'd think it was a great place, and much better than here!! I tell him that Granite has probably forgotten!! I guess it's the people he misses more than the actual town itself!
I laugh as I start telling him that it's been twenty years since he's seen the place and it hasn't improved any. The biggest building in town, and probably what people see first coming into the town, and the only thing they probably remember about the town after they have left, is the huge old dirty derelict warehouse stuck slap bang in the middle of town that we have been trying to get torn down for years but it's a listed building so we can't touch it. We don't have any posh estates like the one we are sitting in, everything is on a level, nobody lives richly or poorly. The towns economy is pretty basic, there are no big business, no big shopping malls, nobody drives around in expensive cars like the ones sitting out on the drive, nobody walks around in designer label clothes. Those of us who earn decent money just sit on it because we have nothing to spend it on, especially the mixed berry's who are caged inside Sugar Valley. We all live a very similar life, if someone is in trouble we help them out, there are no homeless people on the streets of Sugar Valley because if one of them wanders into town, someone will always take them in. I explain that Mango who has the largest, dearest and nicest house in the town and even that sits three doors away from a dirty dive bar, and I can't believe that Granite is living like this when he is at heart just like the rest of us. This gaff is way to posh for the Granite that I knew. I laugh as I pull out my phone.
"... here I'll show you some pictures of Sugar Valley, not that I go around taking scenic photo's of the dump, but I think you'll get my drift. I take a lot of photo's so I'll be able to show you bits of the town. "
I have to sit and wait for my phone to go a little crazy with missed calls and text messages when I turn it on. They seem to be getting worse!! This makes Atlas frown as I ignore them all and go straight to my photos, he asks me if I'm not going to read the texts. I explain to him that I've been upset by the lies that Gravel has been telling me and I've been ignoring everyone for a week trying to get my head straight, especially my sister who is constantly pecking my head.
I start to scroll through my pictures slowly as he leans in close to look. I laugh as I point out the derelict warehouse in the background of one of the pictures. The photo's are random and he gets to see the meadow, park, a few other places and how untidy and bland the town is. I flick past a picture that just has people on and the town hall wall, that I don't think he would want to see, suddenly he shouts stop and tells me to bring the picture back. He takes the phone off me and takes a closer look at it. The picture is of Gravel, Slate, Coral and Turmeric outside town hall when Slate graduated.
"Well it's either a very small world or I'm seeing things!! Scar face lives on!" he says as he looks up at me and points at Turmeric, who he says he has noticed on a few of the photographs but just thought he was imagining things.
"That's Turmeric my mate, funnily enough my nephew Slate always calls him scar face." I frown at him. He says Turmeric Knight and I nod my head in amazement that he would even know Turmeric at all!! He says Granite calls him scar face but he's the only one who can get away with calling it to his face.
"Well I'll be damned!! We wandered where he had slung his hook too!!" he laughs "It's definitely a small world!!"
Atlas tells me that he never imagined Turmeric would have moved to another colour mix town because he is a pure berry and not too keen on colour mixing. He is not even sure why he was even in Cherry in the first place!! He doesn't like the guy, and thinks he is dodgy. Turmeric tells everyone he comes from Berry Shores but Atlas has also heard him say he comes from Apple Hill, wherever that is, and he's heard him talking to Mace about Apple Hill.
I tell him that Apple Hill is right next door to Sugar Valley. I've only known Turmeric for a few years because that's how long he's been living in Sugar Valley. He told me he came from Berry Shores, there was no mention of Cherry Hill!! Gravel introduced me to him and we are friends even though he does tend to irritate me a little because he doesn't leave me alone for five minutes. He says he isn't gay but sometimes I wander, I'm beginning to think on the sly he might fancy me, he virtually stalks me.
He totally shocks me when he tells me that Turmeric used to be Granites best mate and had been for about ten years until Mace split them up. It has been a few years since any of them have seen him. Turmeric moved out of town after he and Granite had a huge fight and Granite hasn't spoken to him since, and was very upset over their break up and his disappearance. Then he tells me that Mace nearly faded Turmeric, as usual Granite and Mace were arguing and Turmeric pretended to hit on Granite just to wind Mace up and Mace just went for him and strangled him. Turmeric actually stopped breathing, Granite had to resuscitate him, and that is what their fight was over.
"Man it was a good job Granite was here and knew what to do or Mace would be inside for murder now!!" we are both frowning at each other "Don't you find this all just a little bit strange?! Him coming from Apple Hill, your neck of the woods then being out here first in Mint Valley where Granite was living, then he moved to Cherry when Granite did. He virtually stalked Granite and was his best mate for ten years then when he falls out with Gran he turns up on your doorstep? You know Turmeric knows exactly who you are too, Granite seriously has NEVER stopped talking about you."
Yes I do find that more than just a little bit strange!! Turmeric has never told me that he knows Granite, he's not even given me the slightest clues that he might. I've even talked about Granite to Turmeric and he's never said a thing. This is suspicious!! He told me he comes from Berry Shores and fancied a change and that's why he moved to Sugar Valley. Atlas is still staring intensely at the photograph
"Something is not right here, this is crazy - do you also know that slimy berry hole? Grit, no Gravel I think he is called." he says pointing at Gravel which shocks me.
How the hell would he know Gravel?! I tell him who he is and Atlas's eyes widen as he sits staring at me for a moment while I'm staring at him also wide eyed, wandering how he would even know his name. This is getting seriously crazy now!!
"Granites brother!? You are having me on!! I could have sworn only last week that Granite told me he hasn't seen or spoken to his brother just like you in over twenty years." I tell him that he hasn't as far as I know "Are you sure that is Granites brother only I've seen him with Mace quite a few times over the past few years, and Mace told me he doesn't know Granites brother. I've even seen that Gravel here in this house, I'd recognize that nasty Berry Hole anywhere!!"
"Of course I'm sure that Gravel is Granites brother." I laugh at him for asking such a stupid question even though I'm very puzzled by what he has just said. "You can't have seen Gravel before, especially not here if Granite has told you that he hasn't seen or spoken to Gravel for twenty years and Mace has told you he doesn't know Granites brother. You couldn't have seen Gravel with Mace!! Unless someone is lying. He does look a lot like Granite in the face maybe you just think you've seen him before, but then how did you know his name?" I frown at him.
"I've heard Mace saying his name. Oh trust me!! I have seen that guy here in Cherry Hill!! I've been up close and personal with him, especially with his fist!!" he points at a scar above his eyebrow "I've got a constant reminder of that Berry Hole on my face!! He's a bent copper and he carries a gun."
Atlas starts to explain the first time he saw him was a few years back when Granite had gone away for the weekend, he was staying with one of his mates over in Mint Valley who he knew from when he used to live there. He remembers it was not long after the incident with Turmeric because Granite was upset with Mace because he had been Turmerics best mate for ten years and they seriously fell out because of Mace and that's why he took off for the weekend to get away from Mace.
As Granite was away for the weekend Atlas and Mace decided to make the most of it. They planned to go out clubbing and as Mace is not allowed to drink around Granite due to his problem with alcohol, Mace wanted to get hammered while he was away. Mace also needed to let off steam because he was really upset, as he and Granite had been seriously fighting for weeks even before the incident with Turmeric and he thought he had blown it with Granite. Atlas and Mace on the Friday night went to a few bars first and they came out of the one bar and were walking down an alleyway in town making their way to the club when suddenly this man appeared from nowhere - Gravel.
Gravel grabbed hold of Mace and slammed him up the wall and was holding him round the throat and yelling in his face. They started arguing like they knew each other, they both spoke each others names and the argument had something to do with Turmeric, he heard Gravel say Turmeric's name a few times and Mace was yelling at him something about him taking stupid risks again and Gravel was really laying into Mace. Atlas thought Turmeric had sent someone round to do Mace over for nearly strangling him.
Atlas said he jumped on Gravel when he started punching Mace in the stomach and Gravel let go of Mace and started on him and leathered him around the alleyway. Atlas says he isn't a fighter and after Gravel had given him a good kicking he pulled out a gun held it to his head then told Atlas to sling his hook and threatened him saying he was to forget ever seeing him and if Atlas didn't he would be back and Atlas would be looking at the inside of his wooden box. Gravel told Atlas not to bother calling the police because if he did he would know, then he flashed a police badge in his face. Atlas said he didn't want to go and leave Mace alone with him but Mace told him to go, he said he would be okay, he said he had known the guy for years, they are actually mates just having a slight disagreement and he would be fine.
Atlas said he'd gone back home, four doors down and paced around waiting for Mace to come home because he didn't know what else to do, he was still shaking, it's not everyday you have a gun pointed at your head. Atlas said he nearly phoned Granite he was that worried about Mace, he had the feeling the guy was a bent copper, and you definitely don't argue with one of them. He said he started to really get worried when over four hours later Mace still wasn't back, he litterally had his phone out and Granites number up and was about to hit dial when he spotted Gravel and Mace both staggering down the road. They were laughing and singer, arms round each other falling all over the place, they were both hammered. They came into this house and Gravel spent the night here. He didn't know what to think, and even went as far as to think that Mace was having a fling with this Gravel guy, because Granite has always told Mace he's free to go out and sleep with other men as long as he wears protection so he doesn't catch anything and give it to Granite.
Atlas said he went round in the morning to check on Mace, after he watch Gravel leave. He said he was wearing a hat with none of his grey hair showing and his jacket, which he guessed is reversible, was now brown not grey. Gravel looked like a brown berry and guessed he might be from out of town, especially as he's never seen him before. Atlas said he was knocking on the door and Mace wasn't answering so he went round the back, he knows where the spare key is kept and let himself in because he was worried. He found Mace on the floor in the bedroom crying, he was in a right mess. Gravel had given him a good kicking before he left. While he was cleaning Mace up he begged Atlas to forget about the guy he'd seen and what had happened, all he would say was that he was an old friend and there wouldn't be anymore trouble. Mace and Atlas were both covered in cuts and bruises when Granite came home. Atlas covered for Mace and they told Granite they had been out got drunk and got into a fight, and Granite just bought it.
"I saw him another time, probably about twelve months ago now, but there wasn't any more trouble." he frowns at me "I was out with one of my other mates and we went into the dive bar at the rough end of town. I was pretty shocked to even see Mace in there, he doesn't do the dive bar, normally he wouldn't be seen faded in that place!! I spotted him in a corner with that Gravel guy, they had their heads together chatting, he didn't spot me in the bar but I questioned him the next day and he told me I was drunk and seeing things ... but I wasn't!! I hadn't even started drinking when I saw him in there and I definitely saw him in there with that Gravel guy!!"
We sit staring at each other for a moment. I'm trying to process it all - suddenly this smells very much of Gravel and his meddling and I think I know what he might be up to!!
"This is dodgy man!! Turmeric here then there. Turmeric and Mace together here - Turmeric and Gravel together there - Gravel and Mace together on the sly, it's like a damn triangle - it can not be a coincidence that Turmeric has gone from Granite to you ... man this is well weird!!
Atlas's phone suddenly starts ringing which makes us both jump. He runs into the kitchen where he has left it and stands in the archway as he looks at the number flashing up on the screen. He looks up at me nervously telling me its Granite.
"Don't tell him I'm here!! I want to go home and face him! There is too much to sort out and it can't be done over the phone, especially all this shit with Gravel and Turmeric!!"
Atlas answers his phone and clicks it onto loud speaker with an amused look on his face.
"Hey Atlas how's it going everything okay?"
"Great, yeah everything is fine. How is Mace I haven't spoken to him since you left, he's blanking me for some reason." Granite laughs for a moment.
"He's okay, I've hardly seen much of him myself he's been busy shopping with El his new best buddy!!" he laughs "Don't worry, she's female so she won't be treading on your toes. Mace told me about your kissing episode - you sly dog!!" Granite starts laughing again "Mate you should have tried harder, you know I've been trying to offload the bitch for years!! If I had known that was the game you were playing and that you wanted him I would have given you a helping hand!!"
Just hearing Granites voice again knocked me sick and I have to stay sitting down.
"That can quite easily be arranged if that's what you want!" Granite laughs for a moment then goes quiet. "Listen Atlas, I need you to do something for me seriously - DON'T get phoning Mace and telling him because I could seriously do without the headache of one of his tantrums right now. This is very important and just between you and me!!"
Granite goes quiet for a moment and doesn't tell him what he wants him to do until he has made Atlas swear that he will not tell Mace about this call.
"Have I had any visitors? A green guy with pointed ears?" Granite asks and I quickly wave my arms and tell Atlas to say no.
"No mate, why are you expecting someone?" Atlas tells him as he rolls his eyes at me.
"Yeah ...." he seems to hesitate for a moment
I hear a voice in the background which sounds very much like Cinnamon which puzzles me. I seriously hope that Granite is not in Apple Hill where Cinnamon lives. That town has got him into so much trouble in the past!!
"You know HIM. He caught a flight out to Cherry Hill this morning and there is only one reason that we can think why he might be out there, and that's looking for me. You can't mistake him if he knocks on the door, he's all green, dreads, he has pointed ears, his name is Forrest Rock. I don't want you telling Mace this because I think you know this is really going to upset him!!"
"You are talking about your hubby right?" Atlas smirks at me
"Yes. The police have been looking for him for a week, his sister has listed him as a missing person. Friends and family have been trying to get in touch with him and he's not picking up any of his calls, texts or voice mail."
"Why would he be out here looking for you after all this time?" Atlas says and he's got this mischievous look on his face, I thump him.
"I can't say why he might be looking for me. Someone has been playing games and telling him lies that have really upset him and he's taken off, everyone was worried that he might have done something stupid because of his silence!! The police have picked up on him catching a flight out from Sandy Shores to Cherry this morning so that's why we think he might be looking for me." he goes quiet for a moment "Atlas if he turns up at mine, drag him in, lock the door and phone me straight away - DO NOT let him leave without talking to me first!!"
"You need to tell him something, tell him NOT to take any of Gravel or Turmeric's calls and especially not to tell them where he is - he is to phone ONLY me, Cinnamon or Mango ... did you get those names?" he goes quiet for a moment and Atlas says yes when I nod. "Repeat what I just said - in fact write the names down so you don't forget them!"
"For fudge sake Gran - no to Gravel and Turmeric - he is to phone only you Cinnamon or Mango, I've got it." Atlas tells him but Granite snaps quite nastily at him telling him again to write the names down "Chill out man, you are going to burst a blood vessel!! I'll write the names down stress head if it makes you happy, I'm in the kitchen where is there paper?"
"Bottom draw in the first cupboard you hit when you walk in, there should be a pad and some pens in there ... and don't go poking about in that draw afterwards it's private if you haven't already!!"
"My name isn't Mace!! I don't snoop!!" they both starts laughing as Atlas frowns down into the draw. There isn't a pad in there so he pulls out a piece of paper and a pen and writes the names down on the paper that looks like a bill. Atlas is rolling his eyes because he knows as well as I do there really is no need because I'm stood here listening. I point my finger at him and laugh silently, because he's stupid enough to actually be doing it and writing the names down.
"Atlas I need you to write something else down too and make sure he reads it - 'Lost River Elf' He laughs quietly for a moment and I know exactly what he is saying. "he will know what that means."
"So what does that mean?" Atlas smirks at me as he asks Granite.
Granite does still love me, he has just told me and I need to go home!!
"Get him to tell you." he laughs "Atlas PLEASE don't feed HIM with any of Mace's fairy tale loves young dream bull shit either - tell him the truth and you know exactly what that is!!" he goes quiet for a moment "Make sure you make him stay there, phone me the minute he turns up and if he won't talk to me, tell him to phone Cinnamon, it is important." he laughs for a moment "Oh and Atlas keep your hands to yourself!! I know what you are like, you'll jump anything with a pulse! You can maul Mace all you want, but even try to touch HIM and I WILL break your fingers and your neck!!"
They end the call.
As soon as Atlas cuts off the call he quizzes me about the 'Lost River Elf'. I tell him its an anagram and maybe he should try and work it out. We used to play a game and leave each other little anagram notes around the house and in silly places like I'd find them in my lunchbox at work if he'd made my dinner. He was always a lot better with the anagrams than I was, it used to take me days sometimes to work them out. 'Lost River Elf' was one of his favourites because of my ears and because he always used to say he would love me forever. Atlas is confused and says he's no good at working out anagrams so I tell him Granite is saying - Still Forever.
While Atlas stands laughing after calling us a pair of saps, I am stood wandering why Granite said for me not to take any of Gravel and Turmeric's calls and not to tell them where I am? There is definitely something dodgy going on here!!
Me and Atlas are both staring down at the paper he's written on. I'm actually staring at Cinnamon's name, he is bugging me. Why did Gran say only to phone him, Mango and Cinnamon? It is not like I know Cinnamon all that well, he works and lives in Apple Hill and has done since he graduated. If he had said Bayleaf I could have quite understood it because I'm his mate. Cinnamon is a police officer. Shit!! I bet he's the one looking for me, Granite said Meadow has reported me as a missing person - I need to text my sister and tell her I'm okay!!!
"Did you notice Granite mentioned Gravel and Turmeric?" I frown at Atlas "I am starting to think Turmeric and Mace might have been here all this time spying and sitting on Granite for Gravel to keep him away from home and keep us two apart!! I think Granite might have worked it out too!" Atlas frowns at me for a moment.
"I guess it would make sense. Mace and Gravel must be up to something sneaking about on the sly, especially behind Granites back, and there is definitely a triangle going on here!!" Atlas frowns at me again "So wouldn't that mean Turmeric is now spying and sitting on you?"
"More than likely if I know Gravel!! Turmeric won't leave me alone, he virtually stalks me, every time I turn round he's there, he actually gets on my nerves most of the time and he's always trying to open me up ... especially about Granite." Now I come to think about it he is always bringing up Granite when I don't want to be constantly reminded. I regret the day I ever told him all about Granite and my failed marriage. I roll my eyes at Atlas "It's obvious with Gravels lies he's breaking his back STILL trying to keep me and Granite apart. I should never have doubted Granite and should have known Gravel would still be playing his games!! I bet Gravel has got Mace sitting on Granite and Turmeric sitting on me!!"
"But why is he going to these lengths? Why would he be trying to keep you and Granite apart?" I can see he is getting confused, he obviously doesn't know anything and I haven't really told him anything.
"Oh I know exactly why!! Gravel has a secret that he is trying to stop me telling Granite. That secret is why I'm out here. I've never known where he has been, but now that I know where Granite is, I have to tell him the truth." Atlas frowns at me
"Granites nephew Slate the one who needs the kidney. Only he isn't Granites nephew, he's Granite son and Granite doesn't have a clue!! Gravel stole Granites baby and has been passing him off as his own for the past twenty year, not even Slate knows that Granite is his real Father and not Gravel. Gravel has been holding a gun to my head literally for twenty years so I'll keep my mouth shut, but he's my brother, so I doubt he would ever use it!!"
Atlas stands there wide eyed, his mouth hanging open and I can quite understand why. He wants me to explain HOW Granite even has a child, he knows how intolerable of women that Granite is. but I tell him I don't have time to explain, it's too long a story
"I need to go home NOW and sort all this shit out, especially Granite, we have been apart for far too long - it's time he came home!!"
"Mace is not going to take that lying down!!" he laughs then pulls a face "It is going to destroy him!! This is what he has always been scared of. We all know Granite will go straight back to you, without a second thought for Mace, given the chance."
"I don't give a shit, Mace can just take a hike!! If he is here playing a game for Gravel then how do you know part of that game isn't pretending to be in love with Granite just so as he can sit on him?!"
"Trust me he isn't playing the love game - that part is definitely for real!!" Atlas frowns at me "You know you've got a fight on your hands with him don't you. Just don't let him get his hands round your throat!" he laughs.
"He can fight all he likes but it won't get him very far!! Gravel, Turmeric and Mace have played their games with us for way too long and I'm going home to put a stop to them right now! Granite needs to know the truth about Slate and I'm taking back what's mine and I don't care who I've got to hurt to do it!!"
Atlas decides he is coming home with me, he says that he gets the feeling that Mace is going to need him if me and Granite are about to dump him from a great height, especially with him being away from home. This amuses me but I think it is probably a good idea, he might be able to help to calm the situation down.
After Atlas has got one of his brothers to come and stay over so there is someone here house sitting, we checked the airport for flights. There wasn't a flight with available seats going out of Cherry Hill for two days to Raspberry Hill. We managed to find a flight from another airport that we could catch taking off in six hours. Atlas said it would take us less than four hours to drive there.
After booking two tickets we jumped into Atlas's car and I fill him in on the whole sorry story from the start as we drive to Rose Valley Airport.
At Rose Valley Airport we jump on a plane heading in the direction of home.