Copyright© 2012 by Denham Forrest
As I began to waken the following morning — Just as I reached that senseless half-awake half-asleep state where one usually finds you are wondering what day of the week it is. Well, I kind-a found that I was more than a little reluctant to actually open my eyes.
And for more reasons than the two that I'd instantly become acutely aware of, because I could actually feel their warm bodies against mine.
Yeah well, if you're old enough (and have been around the park a few times) to be able to recognise that unmistakable sensation of having two females sharing your bed with you; then one might have some clue as to what I'm talking about.
There was definitely no mistaking the fact that there was one shapely and very warm body snuggled up tight against my back and yet another pair of breasts pressing against my chest. I could also feel someone's warm breath on my face.
Please remember that I had been a bachelor — who'd ostensibly lived alone — for many years. But waking on the odd morning to find a warm body snuggling up close had not been a particularly unusual experience for me; if you get my drift. And I'm definitely not talking about Maud Clegg when I say that!
But I'd often found that successfully recalling the young woman's name ... Well now, that was a whole different ball game.
Yeah-well, after a good few bevvies ... names have never been a strong point of mine.
So you see, on that particular morning, I had a few more important things to ruminate on; as well; those insane bloody dreams! And luckily, I was at least with-it enough, to prevent my hands from going exploring, if you get my drift.
You see, as the morning twilight turned to daylight, I lay there wondering if ... Well look, if I could dream about Tara being stood on the quay that day, and all that followed after it ... Then, what the bloody hell was there to stop me dreaming about the accident and waking up in hospital to find Ottilie had come looking for me. And er, well, also discovering that I had a daughter, that I kind-a knew about from the first dream ... Oh come on, you surely can understand what I'm raving on about here!
You see, there was yet another very obvious scenario, that sprang into my mind. One that — over the years — had happened to me, maybe a little too often if I'm being completely honest.
Dreams, both pleasant and unpleasant of my youth, including Ottilie, hadn't been that uncommon for me. Not many really if you add them all up, but enough to ... well, set my mind off down what might be calculated to be a more obvious path. There was the distinct possibility that I could have hooked up with a ... or even a couple of lookers from the charter party that day and ... Okay, maybe got carried away with the occasion, and probably tied one on a bit, in all the excitement.
I knew from experience that too much hard liquor does tend to fog one's memory of what exactly what had occurred the night before, and I was well aware that alcohol can also lead to some pretty off-the-wall dreams, or even nightmares on occasion, as well!
So you see, I was lying there that morning not daring to open my eyes; wondering about just about everything.
And yes, I did have a headache. Only on reflection, I realised that it wasn't so much a hangover type headache; it was more a "Jesus I'm bloody knackered!" type of headache.
Eventually I dared to open my eyes just a fraction and (much to my relief) instantly recognised Ottilie's face smiling back at me.
I suppose my body language must have advertised that relief to Ottilie in some way, because she appeared to instinctively know what I'd been thinking.
"Feeling better, now that you know that it is me you're in bed with?" Ottilie whispered, as I kissed her on the tip of her nose.
"Oh come on, Taylor; I'm not daft. You're a handsome, virile and exceptionably eligible young man. Just look at this place, I really can't believe it. That you're still single that is!"
"Ottie I don't..."
"Taylor there's signs of all of your conquest's tucked away all over this room. Oh, and I wasn't spying honestly! I was looking for your PJ's"
"My pyjamas? Oh, that's what you've got on."
I'll admit that I had been a little curious about Ottilie's night attire; what I could see of it.
"The top, yes; you've got the bottoms on. I figured we might have company when we woke-up this morning, and we did!"
"Ah got you! I was kind of wondering myself ... well, if you're there, then who is it behind me. Mind there was only one possible candidate on the list. But I don't recall putting these trucks on. Mind you, I'm not sure I can recall much of last night after you produced that third bottle of Champagne. That stuff don't agree with me, you know."
"So I noticed; but you were hitting the rum harder than the bubblies. And you didn't put your ... trucks on, I did! You were ... Well, I hate to say this, but I think I wore you out last night. It had been a long time Taylor and I ... well, not for a long time anyway. But I'm pleased to be able to say, that you weren't out of practice.
"Better than I remember, if anything. I suppose that's down to all the practice you've been putting in."
"Oh yeah, I seem to recall a rather energetic workout now." I said, desperate to move that conversation away from the direction Ottilie appeared to be steering it in.
"A little more than energetic Taylor, you ... Well, let's just say, that I had a night I won't forget in a hurry!"
"Oh Christ, but did we... ? well, are you on the ... you know?"
"Isn't it about sixteen years too late to worry about those kinds of niceties, daddy?" Tara's voice asked from behind me.
Then, when I turned my head to try and look at her, Tara raised herself up, gave me a mocking smile and then kissed me on the cheek. Then leaning right over me she kissed and said good morning to her mother.
"You're still supposed to be asleep, young lady!" I retaliated.
"Not much chance of that, if you two are awake. I'll leave you to ... well, to do whatever you need to do this morning. Please don't take all day over it though; I could do with some breakfast. See you later parents!"
As Tara was speaking, she had climbed over both Ottilie and myself, and then after throwing us a last cheeky grin she exited the room; firmly closing the door behind her.
Mind, as she did so, I realised that I was going to have to do something about the squeaky springs in my supposedly antique bed. Something that had never proved to be a problem when I'd lived alone of course. Company or not, there had never been anyone else in the house to hear the noise. Who wasn't actually sharing it with me, if you get my drift?
"Am I going to have trouble with that daughter of ours?" I asked.
"I don't think so Taylor. You know she's wanted her father for so long, that probably the noise this bed of your made during the night, assured her that ... Well, I am not likely to be letting you get away again, am I?"
"Ottilie, it's been a long time; I might have changed. How can you be so sure you're going to like this Taylor Carson?"
"You're not kidding you've changed; so much more considerate in bed to start with!"
"I hate to have to be the one who has to point this out to you, sweetheart. But we've never actually been in a proper bed together before!"
"Oh you're so right, Taylor. I must have been thinking of someone else."
"And that's supposed to imply?"
"Well, hopefully it will bring us to discussing that bloody great elephant!"
"You've kind-a lost me there, kiddo."
"The elephant in the room, Taylor ... The man I married, William Morris! The person you seem to be so nonchalant about."
"Ah now, I've been dreading this one. And, I was hoping to avoid it, if I possibly could."
"Because basically I'm a coward when it comes to all this ... emotional stuff. And your life ... well, your love life, with Bill Morris at least, is of no interest to me. I'm pretty well pissed-off that he knocked you ... and Tara, about, and should our paths ever cross in the future; then I'll let the bugger know exactly how annoyed I really am about that. But there's little else about that relationship I wish to hear about."
"Ottilie. Did you love him?"
"Well, I suppose I sort-a thought I loved him for a while. But I knew I didn't love him in the same way or anything like as much as I'd always loved you. When I agreed to marry Bill, I liked him, but that's about all. And Tara needed a father!
"I suppose I'd have to admit to you, that after we were married, I did begin to fall in love with Bill. You can't live with someone as man and wife, for several years and not have a special bond develop between you. I suppose that's how all those arranged marriages work!
"But then suddenly, just after he graduated from Uni, Bill turned funny and began to resent Tara; which I thought was very strange. Bill was swearing undying love for me one minute, and apparently doting over Tara. The next, he began to resent the one reason that I'd agreed to marry him in the first place, our Tara!
"Do you know why?"
"Not really. Tara and I suspect that it could have been for one of a couple of reasons. But I had made it very clear to Bill before I accepted his proposal; that the only reason I was marrying him was because ... Well, I thought..."
"Your parents thought; you mean!"
"Yes, you're right, Taylor. They sort-of convinced me that Tara needed a father and that you weren't interested in the job. If I'd only seen you on that bus that day..."
"Life's full of ifs ... and buts, Ottie."
"That's it, but why aren't you ... I don't know ... pissed-off, that I married William Morris. And ... shared ... myself with him as I did with you, last night!"
"Ah now, that's hitting bellow the belt, Ottie. I'm annoyed about it, but I think I can understand why you married Bill Morris in the first place. If you don't mind I'd prefer not to think about any ... conjugal issues that might pertain to that ... er, situation though. In short, yes, I am bloody jealous of the bugger!
"And besides, although I've never got married ... Well, as you so delicately pointed out to our daughter this morning. No one could claim that I've been celibate for the last..."
"Yes I know, Mina and Totto. Uncle Percy made that quite clear to me!" She grinned.
"And you're not annoyed?"
"Good heavens no! That could be construed, as the kettle calling the pot black, couldn't it? Wasn't there an old song, something about if you can't be with the one you love; then love the one you're with?
"So I can understand that, but I'll admit that I'm more than a little Jealous of those two; more than I am about any of your so obvious more recent conquests. Do any of them live locally by the way; are we likely to run into anyone who thinks she's staked her claim?"
"I don't believe so, Ottilie. Why do you ask?"
"I don't know really. Maybe I thought I might be able to prove something to you, if I showed you that I was prepared to fight for my man!"
"No, you won't have to do that. Good old Carson's, alright to have some fun with, but most females around here think I don't take the institution of marriage seriously enough to make it worth their while working on a long term relationship with him."
"Well a couple of the women I've ... had the odd encounter with, were not ... strictly eligible, if you get my drift."
A confused expression had come over Ottilie's face; so I continued.
"Holiday romances Ottie. Some women like to forget that they are married when they are away on holiday; without hubby!"
"How would you know, if they didn't wear their wedding rings?"
"Usually a ring leaves a ... well, shadow, and ... well, most of the local guys keep their eyes open for that little white mark around that finger. It's like an advert that the female is looking for a bit of strange. Besides that, where would they get all the kids from, if they weren't married; and who the hell is paying for their trip if they are divorced? Widows and divorcees who are not actively ... well they, tend to keep wearing their wedding rings, by the way."
"They do Ottie. You'd never make a seaside gigolo, you know."
"Is that what you've been?"
"No, well I hope I haven't. Although I can't claim that I've ever been one to pass-up on a sure thing. Christ, I'm only human! Here, I thought that you were telling me why you thought Morris turned all uppity on you, anyway?"
"Oh yeah, sorry. Well, after Bill graduated, my dad got him a job on the management of Ballard's. Poor Bill, he never was the brightest light on the Christmas tree and he always did have a pretty inflated opinion of his own capabilities back then.
"Bill had no idea of diplomacy; I should imagine he stormed into Ballard's thinking that he knew it all, and rubbed his subordinates ... bloody hell, most likely he rubbed everyone up the wrong way. I know he upset a lot of the other managers; they complained to my father about him.
"Anyway instead of being a new broom that whipped his department into line. Very quickly strange and unexpected things began to go wrong for Bill somehow, and it kept going wrong; from what I understand from my father.
"I think that my father made things worse for Bill, by stopping him getting fired right at the start. When it became obvious that he couldn't handle the job.
"Everyone at Ballard's knew that the only reason Bill had got that job in the first place was because he was Frank Thorn's son-in-law. I believe they ... well, I don't think people would have minded that so much, if Bill had been able to handle the position. The truth is that he couldn't, he was completely out of his depth and I suspect they did everything they could to undermine him.
"I also know that at least one person there did their homework. Someone must have worked out that Tara was more likely to be your daughter than Bill's. And they let Bill know that they knew."
"How would they know that; did he tell you?"
"No, Taylor. I think it was Tara's age, and how long Bill and I had been married. All those delicate details were on Bill's personnel file after all and I think some vicious bugger must have gained access to them."
"Anyway, after I had the police remove Bill from the house; I went nosing around his computer and found ... well, some rather nasty emails. Anonymous of course. In brief they claimed that you and I were still ... Well, getting at it!"
"How did they know about me in the first place?"
"Taylor, when we were young; everyone around our way had heard of Taylor Carson, even if they'd never clapped eyes on him. It was also common knowledge that you and I had been ... an item, since the year dot!"
"Not quite Ottie."
"Near enough Taylor. At least one person in the management at Ballard's must have worked it out anyway. And they made it their business to let Bill think ... I can't believe that it actually was a widely known fact. Anyway, Bill began to believe everyone he worked with was talking about him behind his back. He thought that they knew that he was raising Taylor Carson's child.
"I think that was what pushed Bill down the drink road, and when he was drinking he didn't do much thinking ... or maybe he thought too much. Eventually he lost it, and I ended up in St Thomas's."
"If I'd known about that..."
"Taylor, you don't have to say it. I know what Taylor Carson's reaction would have been, had he known what was going on. Remember, I've seen you in action, more times than I care to remember, if I'm being honest!"
"And the other reason Bill got uppity? You implied that there was more than one."
"Oh yes, Tara's theory. Well Taylor, it would appear that I sometimes talk ... mumble really, in my sleep. I didn't know I did it until Tara told me that I did. Tara suggests that she's heard me say the names Taylor and Bouncer more than a few times. And she suggests that Bill must also have heard me say your name and maybe he got ... well annoyed about that as well."
"I can understand that that wouldn't do much for a man's self-esteem. I ... well one time, I was with a ... anyway she called out someone else's name at a very inopportune moment. Kind a squashed my ego flat, I can tell you!"
For some reason me saying that brought a massive grin to Ottilie's face.
"Are we done with all that breast-beating malarkey now?" I asked her.
"If you're completely happy, yes!"
"I'm just happy that you and Tara are actually here this morning Ottie. I don't want to think about the past ever again."
"Okay then, Elvis has left the building."
I'm not sure what expression Ottilie saying that, brought to my face; but it caused her to add.
"The elephant has gone back to the zoo Taylor! What shall we do now?"
"Breakfast would be nice." I suggested.
"Yeah, but later." Ottilie replied, and pulled me real close.
Some – indeterminate — time later, I staggered down stairs to find that everyone else — except Ottilie and myself – had already eaten. They (including Maud) were all out in the yard watching my new friend (from the hospital), George's young lad, John, mowing what I used to loosely describe, as my lawn.
Ottilie and I did not join them; we snuck into the kitchen and prepared our ... brunch. Then we sat there like a couple of teenagers, giggling about nothing, as we ate it.
"I'd have cooked that for you." Maud said when she joined us a little later.
"Sorry Maud, but I needed to prove to my man that I do know how to feed him." Ottilie replied.
"I..." was as far as got when Maud cut in with.
"Taylor, be quiet man! In the kitchen Ottilie's in charge ... when I'm not here that is! Honestly Ottilie, he's positively dangerous in here. How he has never poisoned himself or burnt the bloody house down, I just don't understand! I'm forever throwing out-of-date stuff out of his cupboards. And don't trust him shopping for food either, especially if he's hungry. Taylor will buy anything he can eat in the car on the way home, and forget to buy what he went to shop for in the first place."
"Par for the course!" Ottilie replied.
"I think I'll go and see how young John's getting on with that old lawnmower." I said, and made a quick exit.
By the way the lawnmower wasn't old, I'd bought it (discounted) at the end of the previous season.
Tara greeted me with a hug and a kiss when I joined the others outside. Yes, I had ignored the conversation that I knew was going on in the kitchen. The sooner Ottilie learnt of all my ... failings, the better, as far as I was concerned.
We had lunch at the pub (well Ottilie and I had a liquid lunch) and then (Maud having gone home from there) the six of us walked down to Parson's boatyard to inspect Quiet Times.
Not really the damage, because the repairs were almost complete; there was just a few layers of varnish that needed to harden. The longer it can be left to dry, the better.
I learnt that there had been some suspicion that Quiet Times stern gear might have sustained some minor damage while it was being moved from above the old biddie's car. A manoeuvre necessary to facilitate the removal of said "obstruction to navigation" from the harbour I was informed. The harbour master had been in somewhat of a hurry to do that, or so I'm told.
Whatever, some of the boys took her straight to Parson's boatyard for safety's sake. Who in turn had lifted her out of the water so that the old biddie's insurance company's loss adjusters could inspect her. There was some minor damage to the rudder, more than likely sustained when Quiet Times scraped the bottom at sometime in the past. But who's to know for sure?
Then, because the insurance company had accepted responsibly for rudder as well as the damage to foreword cabin roof, and a few scrapes on her side. Old man Parsons had got on with the repairs while the getting was good, so to speak. He figured (correctly) that I would want Quiet Times back in the water as soon as I was well enough to use her again.
In fact my self-discharge from hospital had interrupted Parson's plans. He had intended to put Quiet Times back in the water, on that mornings tide. But on hearing that I was out and about, he thought I might want to take a good look at her bottom, while she was high and dry.
All of our party climbed aboard her, then Tara showed her mother, Sylvia, Kate, and John around.
It didn't strike me as odd at the time that Tara knew where everything was, because I recalled John saying he'd talked to Kate outside the boatyard. I kind of assumed that old man Parsons or one of his boys, had given Tara a tour while she'd been there. However my mind began to change when I heard Tara saying.
" ... admiralty in 1956. She's made out of Larch, on oak frames. She's forty-one feet long, eleven-and-a-half feet wide, and she draws around four feet of water; whatever that means!"
"I'd have said, more like five!" John interrupted Tara, "She's a big-un you know. I wouldn't risk taking her in anything less than seven or eight feet of calm water."
Then the lad looked at me, for confirmation I suppose.
"It's four-and-a-half feet, John." I corrected the lad, then I asked, "But how do you know all that, Tara?"
She grinned back at me.
"I can't be sure dad, I just do! Maybe I dreamt it sometime. In here for instance," Tara lifted one of the bench seats to expose the locker beneath. "I know you keep all the life jackets. And in that one over, there's couple of mops and buckets for washing the decks down. Maybe it's female intuition?"
"Or it could be that you had a good look around the other day." I suggested/
"The paint was still wet father; they wouldn't let me come up here!" Tara grinned back at me.
I looked across at Ottilie, who'd listened to the exchange in silence. Ottilie shrugged, smiled and then mouthed "Uncle Percy!" back to me.
"I'm beginning to get worried about exactly what the old bugger's been up too." I grinned back at her. But then I let the subject drop, because Mr Parsons, Sylvia, John and young Kate were ... Well, they'd obviously lost the plot somewhere along the line, and were looking at me as if I'd gone loopy.
We left the boatyard after arranging to witness Quiet Times going back into the water the following morning. But as we left the yard, I remembered something I'd needed to discuss with old man Parsons, so at my insistence the rest of the party walked on, while doubled back into his office.
"Are you sure lad?" Parsons had asked when I explained what I wanted him to do.
"Oh yeah I'm sure; that little scene on the boat just now convinced me." I smiled back at him
"You're the boss lad, I'll do my best to have it all ready in the morning for you. But don't you go forgetting to do all the paperwork, will you. You know what officialdoms like; those buggers will be all over you if all the paperwork isn't right!" The old boy reminded me as I left.
So instead of heading for the house to join the others, I headed for the Boat Charter company office from where I knew I could make the necessary phone calls with a modicum of privacy. Well, privacy in as far as I required it anyway; certain people needed to know what I was planning.
I'm sure young John must have nipped home at sometime during the day. But he was back sniffing around Kate – who appeared to enjoy his company – by the time I made it back to the house.
Whatever, as I walked into the yard I was greeted with an immediate summons to attend my doctors surgery. It appeared that he was quite perturbed that I'd discharged myself from hospital and chewed me out over the fact. But then he went on to say that under the circumstances he understood my actions.
From that I gathered that he knew all about Ottilie and Tara and their arrival on the scene. It also became apparent that he was aware that Quiet Times was going back in the water the following morning. And he somehow invited himself, his wife and two children along on what would be a kind of inaugural cruise. He had it sussed that I'd want to take the girls out for a spin on her.
By the time I returned from the doc's, — after he'd given me the full once over — Maud, Ottilie and Sylvia were ... well, they sounded very busy in the kitchen preparing our evening meal. I kind-a stuck my head in there to say hello and I then retreated as quickly as possible. Albeit having been given the task of chilling the wine they'd selected from my meagre collection.
All right, I was told "Get lost!", my input would not be necessary until it was time to open said bottles of plonk. Not in so many words maybe; but that was about the gist of it.
I retreated, first to the lounge and then further outside, out of earshot; to hunt down the youngsters.
Yeah well, as I said Maud's voice carries, and I could hear her ... Well, I suspect that while I'd been unconscious, Maud had been diplomatic in her exchanges with Ottilie. It appeared that now that I was up and about, Ottie was getting a rather fuller description of some of the more humorous interludes from my life that Maud had been witness to. Unfortunately, far too often, she mentioned some of my more notorious encounters with females.
I can't say that I was upset about it, because I wasn't! If Ottilie didn't hear about my peccadilloes from Maud; then eventually, she'd surely hear about them – probably related with a lot less diplomacy and humour – from someone else in the town.
The youngsters I found, giving the rib a good scrub down. I'd known the boys had removed it from Quiet Times' mooring (most likely for security reasons). But I'd had no idea that that they had put her on her trailer and dragged her up under her winter cover. I pitched in with the clean-up and then we returned the Rib to the water. We were going to need her the following day and John was quite excited that I charged him with running it down to Parsons' boatyard.
I didn't sleep alone again that night, as you might guess, but at least Tara hadn't joined us when Ottilie decided to wake me that following morning. At the rate Ottie was going, I began to wonder how long I was going to last. She certainly appeared to be making up for lost time; if you get my drift?
John (and another youngster) arrived very early — as planned — and the two lads roared off in the Rib, much to Kate's surprise. I think she (and maybe Tara) had assumed that they'd go with him. Ottilie and ... well all the girls', remarked that John had left rather prematurely. But I told them that the boys probably wanted to dash around like a pair of idiots in the rib for a while, as youngsters tend to do.
"That Rib can go quite fast if you give some wellie!" I told them, "The youngsters probably want to have a little fun, while I'm not watching."
Both Ottilie and Tara were curious that Quiet Times bows were sheathed in canvas although she was hanging from the boat crane above the water. Parsons had carefully positioned a mobile platform from where he knew (by experience) that Ottilie would be able to reach her bow.
Once we'd all scrambled up there. Mr Parson handed Ottilie a bottle of cheap Champagne and a printed sheet of paper to read from. Then he pointed out the place on the boats bow that would best serve to smash said container.
Ottilie read the words on the paper to herself and looked across at me. I urged her to get on with it. I had one eye on the tide (as always) and I must admit that I was also just a little curious as to why several boats that shouldn't have been, were milling around each other out on the water.
Ottilie got the timing wrong, smashing the bottle a little too early so all anyone heard her say was, "I name this ship..." (Actually the paper had said craft, but we'll forget about that.)
Anyway as the bottle smashed, the air was filled with a cacophony of noise. The craft off the boatyard, (and numerous cars in the locality) all sounded their horns at once. The noise continued as craft, both up and down river, joined in until a coaster moored at the China Clay quay drowned them out with her foghorn. Then a visiting Cruise Ship decided to join in, and probably deafened everyone in the town.
I have no idea whether everyone blasting their horns was planned, or whether hearing everyone else doing so, caused them to decide to join in. Whatever it was very impressive to hear.
As the noise had gone on the boatyard boys had pulled the canvas away to show the world that "Quiet Times" was once again named "Ottilie". (I'll explain that comment shortly.) Then Ottilie watched quietly as her namesake was lowered gently into the water.