Chapter 10: Anxiety

"There's somethin' fishy about all them stories," muttered Tyson. He was strolling through the neighbourhood with Lewis, while Mojo trotted along in front of them. "They all wan'ed kids."

"Or if they didn't, they just suddenly changed," added Lewis.

"We never did ask Jack."

"Thought you didn't want to."

"I don't, do you?"

"No. Don't wanna upset 'im."

Tyson sighed. "I still think he's tied in to all this."

"You mean 'e's in on it? The fact that 'e was first make you think that?"

"An' 'e never worked before he got a baby. Not right before anyway. He came 'ome from Kosovo with Ivan an' 'ad trouble...with people? I never looked at this properly."

Mojo had scampered ahead and gave welcoming barks to someone. They knew who it was instantly.

"Ed," murmured Tyson.

"Well we couldn't avoid 'im forever," murmured Lewis back. "Remember, this is a game. Just act nice." He adorned his warmest smile. "Ed! Hey! Haven't seen ya in a while!"

Edward seemed a little hesitant to smile at them. "Well, not since Sunday but we never spoke at Church. Wonderful day isn't it?" Like he has every day since his transformation, he wore his hair in a midway pony tail, letting his bangs frame his face. He was wearing laid back sports gear too. Jogging bottoms, a loose T-shirt and a short-sleeved zipped jacket that hung open; like the sleeves of his T-shirt the jacket sleeves reached his elbows.

The taller brunette nodded agreeably. "Picture perfect. Whadda ya up to these days?"

The former swimmer looked down, almost ashamed. "Well, I'm making plans for my wedding," he answered neutrally.

Tyson's heart visibly sank. "That's great!" chirped Lewis as if he really meant it. "Ya thinkin' o' havin' kids too?"

"Yeah, eventually."

"That's great news, innit Tyson?" Lewis had to nudge his friend out of his misery-induced stupor.

"Yeah...yeah it really is."

Ed finally looked up again. "'s been good talking to you. But I've got to go, I need to start dinner soon and I want to try out Dean's recipe for apple pie."

So the three exchanged their pleasant goodbyes, with Edward even ruffling Mojo affectionately, then the apparently blissful Uke was on his way. Tyson allowed the shock to reappear. The smaller guy could do anything but gesture frantically at the departing Uke like he was trying to convince Lewis of the change without talking.

"I know," answered Lewis out loud.

"What the hell 'appened to scared o' settlin' down?"

"Ssh! Be quiet."

"There's somethin' goin' on here! I'm freaked out! Hell, I'm scared. I don't wanna find out, I don't wanna change."


"We're leavin'!"

Lewis stood shocked like a statue. ... "Huh?"

"You. Me. We're findin' a house somewhere else and leavin' this freaky town. We'll convince Leslie and Kai to come too. Hell, you two'll probably get along better when we leave." Tyson calmed down when he saw the look of anguish on his friend's face. "Hey." He gently laid his hands on Lewis' shoulders. "Lou, I know you don't like movin' much. It's a pain in the ass, I know. I'll help with the packin'. An' Kai's real good at just...sortin' things out. It'll be okay, I promise." Tyson then grew concerned with someone else. He knelt down to face Mojo. "We're gonna be movin' again, I hope you forgive me." In response, the dog barked cheerfully. Tyson was just as happy and ruffled him in reward.

Lewis sighed in sudden anger. "You know what? You're right! We gotta leave! I haven't been that 'appy 'ere an' I was happier in Dallas. We weren't completely safe but I knew who or what ta be afraid of!" All three of them were stunned at Lewis' outburst. "Come on!" The photographer marched away, leaving his dog and friend to follow him.


"That 'ouse looks good," commented Tyson.

"s'in a village though," Lewis pointed out. The pair were in the study and browsing websites from Lewis' laptop.

"That one's good."

"s'in South Carolina."

"Don't see no problem with that."

Leslie approached the study entrance, wanting to put his suitcase down.

"Now that's nice," said Tyson. "The buildin's a bit small but lotsa garden for Mojo."

"The problem is that town is isolated and nowhere near train links or direct Greyhound routes. Would make trips ta the airport real 'ard." Lewis shook his head.

"Damn house-hun'in's 'ard! You can't jus' pick a house ya 'ave ta pick your jobs an' 'ow you'd visit people. So annoyin'!"

"You never had this problem?"

"Kai sorted everythin' out last time. Includin' my job. I used to be happy ta go wherever."

"When I told Lou we were movin' 'ere he gave me a questionnaire o' these types o' things," put in Leslie. He put down his brief case. He looked neutral yet somewhat wary. "Hello Tyson."

"Hey Leslie," he greeted happily.

Lewis was still getting over his surprise. "Leslie...why you back so early?"

The blonde shrugged. "I wan'ed ta see you...surprise you a lil'. That's alright, innit?"


"You two uh...lookin' for a second 'ouse or somethin'?"

The two Ukes exchanged looks. "We wanna move," answered Tyson.

"We wan'ed ta find someplace first before suggestin' the idea," Lewis explained somewhat apologetically. "Someplace good. I'm sorry Leslie...I'm jus' not happy 'ere."

Leslie looked at his lover as if he wanted to reveal a painful secret. "Why are you two lookin' together?" he asked, subdued. "You wanna move in?"

Tyson beamed. "Think about it. 2 couples under one roof. Wherever we go, we'd have a cover lie that we're just 4 friends. Kai told me you two get along okay. I guess I'd have ta tell 'im our plan tonight since you already know."

The blonde still looked at Lewis that way. He eventually nodded. "Sure." He left.

Lewis sighed. "Ya see the look 'e gave me? I swear that was the same way 'e looked that night 'e came 'ome late."

"Durin' the first week you were here? Yeah. He looked at you like you're on Death Row jus' now." ... Tyson lay a reassuring hand on Lewis' shoulder, stood up and left the study. "Leslie?" he called out. He found the blonde part way up the stairs, giving him a puzzled look. Tyson looked up from the bottom of the staircase. "You wan' me ta leave?"

Leslie sighed. "That would allow me quality time but...Lou an' I haven't seen eye 't' eye for a while now. Not sure if it'll help."

"He loves you. He really does. You two just ain't talkin' to each other. He feels you don't listen to 'im or answer any of 'is questions. Jus' be honest with 'im." ... "I think I'll be leavin' now. But before I do, I can't convince you ta move with us by my charm can I?" Tyson wore his most charming smile.

"No," he sternly answered.

The visitor looked disappointed. He made his return to the study calling out: "Lewis! I'll be leavin' now!"


Lewis approached the kitchen door like a naughty child reluctantly seeing the headteacher. "You wan'ed ta see me?" he asked guardedly from the door.

Leslie was doing the washing up (which had needed to be done since that morning). He was just wearing jeans and a tank top. He gave his lover a surprised look. "Siddown. Relax. Take a cookie from that basket. Harry made 'em."

The brunette sat at the table, suspicious of the elaborately laid out basket of fresh cookies with a jug of juice and two glasses. He took a cookie and chewed on it slowly. His partner finished the washing up, drained the sink and sat down. He smiled nervously. He seemed eager to please. He poured himself some orange juice.

"I jus' wan' you to tell me everythin' that's upsettin' you," the blonde plainly said.

Lewis looked at him accusingly. "Why should I? You wanna just ignore me again?"

"No." Leslie grabbed his lover's hands and clenched them in fiery passion. "Tell me. We're fallin' apart an' I wanna know why."


Lewis seemed stunned. "You've changed...a lot."

The blonde considered this. "I've...been more relaxed-"

"And ignorant an' bossy. I wanna know why too."

... "It...I get invited ta other people's houses after work sometimes, or just in general. I see the husbands or Semes go home and their partners are happy ta welcome everybody. They and their houses look so perfect...people keep askin' ta come round 'ere an' I just...I feel I always need a warnin', you know?"

"Ta clean up everythin'?" When his partner nodded, Lewis laughed. "I never realised this before. You care what other people think?"

Leslie clenched his hands again around those of Lewis' (and apparently the photographer feels no pain). "I told you how it was with my parents. They were always proud o' me, right until the point I came home an'..."

"I know, I remember, you told me. s'why you loved this place bein' so acceptin' of people like us. Dammit, if that was what you wan'ed why couldn't we've jus' gone ta San Francisco?" Lewis freed his hands from his partner's grip and took another cookie.

Leslie looked ashamed. "I didn't wanna move too far from my friends-our friends. Look, if I think about movin' to wherever you find, could you at least think about what I can do ta make you happy?"


"I'm glad you're happy with those. I had ta do 'em last minute." Lewis was on the phone and sat at his desk. "Well I wouldn't I told you, I can't do nature pictures. Not my specialty. ... I'd love ta do city pictures but dependin' on the job I need at least 1 full day an'...accommodation isn't the issue, I just like ta keep my jobs convenient 'n' local. ... What d'you mean it makes me less valuable? ... You won't be reducin' my payments will you? ... No, I remember the terms o' the contract.

"By the way Mr Mason, jus' thought I'd give you a heads up...I might be movin' soon. ... I know, s'why I thought I'd warn you this time, the last move was a bit sudden, even for me." Lewis listened for a long time. Then sighed. "I suppose I can take on a challenge. ...yes...yes...I've never taken pictures for employment agencies but I don't see why not. ... I can do parks, jus' not flowers. They all sound like individual jobs ta me. I knew it...oh. So they're all needed in one city, not urgent are they? ... I guess I could do it. You'll need to give me full details of each job so I know how long I need to stay in New Orleans."

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©Ruth Amy Louise Hüneke 2008