Robert and Rhys

by Taran Geary

 

1950, Berridge’s School,
Founded for the sons
Of Gentlemen in rural Gloucestershire.
Robert Cameron, tall, dark, handsome
And prefect in his final year.
Rhys Gower, who would never fit in,
Red hair and Welsh accent part cause.
Reputation as a tart, unproven maybe.
But mud sticks.

Two years divided them,
And they may not have spoken,
But for a train journey to an exhibit
Miss-organised by the school.
There weren’t enough seats.
“Sit on my lap, Gower. But don’t fidget”
Rhys caused Robert to touch him,
They both felt the thrill and Robert
Felt shock.

Sticky fingers one result
And restful sleep the other
Clinging tightly together
as the bucking carriage bore them
Back to school.
They met in secret when they could
In woods, toilets and anywhere quiet.
The years didn’t mix
It wasn’t done.

They spent the holidays together
At Robert’s, in Wiltshire.
“I would like grandchildren”
His Mother had said. “But I won’t
Get them.
I see how you look at that boy
And he at you.”
“Will you send him away?”
“No…he makes you happy.”


Robert left for Oxford
Rhys stayed behind.
Lonely again.
Letters passed and prearranged calls
To the village box where
Marks on the glass would
Tell a tale.
If anyone looked too closely.
But they didn’t.

Letters became infrequent,
The phone calls all but stopped.
Robert’s new life was taking over
He discovered alcohol.
Rhys grieved quietly
And applied himself to his work.
He made new trysts.
And walks to the woods
But none of them was Robert.

Rhys went to Cambridge.
He knew he wanted to write,
Footlights beckoned and
He wrote scripts.
A children’s book was published.
A contract signed.
The book became a series.
Television called and he contributed
To a popular serial.

Robert followed his father
The Civil Service, Ag and Fish.
Visits to Common and Heath.
Rapid rise through the ranks,
A flat in London
Overlooking the Albert Hall.
Ability or who he slept with or
Which parties he attended
He couldn’t decide.

Rhys stayed near Cambridge
The academic “feel”
Conducive to writing, his first novel
Was a hit.
Best selling author, local celebrity.
Lonely and pining for the past
And dreaming of
What might have been.
Of Robert.

Robert moved to Defence,
A “K” was whispered
Discreetly.
It all seems so pointless he told
His bottle.
And reporting for work
with black eye or split lip
From Common or heath was
Losing it’s appeal.

“Robert! Is that you?”
A voice made him spin around.
He didn’t recognise the bearded face
But red hair tumbling to shoulders
Brought it home.
They hugged in Regent Street,
“Oh how I’ve missed you”
“Why didn’t you find me?”
Fear of rejection.

They laughed, they cried
They drank, they dined.
They spent the night together
In the flat by The Albert Hall.
Within a month the flat was sold
And  Sir Robert moved to Cambridge
He enjoyed the commute.
“Does this mean I’m Lady Cameron?”
Rhys could always make him laugh.

Robert retired, comfortably early,
Rhys carried on writing
As creatives must.
Local characters
Generous benefactors they
Sat on committees
Rhys opened the fete
The village adopted them.
But asked no questions.

Time moves on
and seventieth birthdays
came and went.
Three days after his Rhys
Felt unwell
He took to bed
With a tonic
And there, quietly, peacefully
He died.

Natural Causes
Was all they said
Robert, distraught
Inconsolable, with no family
That he knew of.
Hung on, desperate
For barely a month before
A stroke took him
To be with Rhys.

In loving memory of
Rhys Elgin Gower
And
Robert Alec Cameron, KBC

Partners in life
United in death.

 

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taran.geary@btinternet.com