Eventide Love #8/3

Jessica Esther Hoflick @Artfetch 'Love In Thought'

Jessica Esther Hoflick @Artfetch
‘Love In Thought’

After lunch, Chris went to his office and I drove to my mum’s house. I collected my dog, Jasper, so I could take him for a walk on a long stretch of beach in Sandymount. When we got to the beach, I pulled out the walking boots I kept in my car trunk and put them on. I must have been a sight, walking out onto the expanse of the beach in my bright orange dress, a grey cashmere stole, and my walking boots.

The tide was out and the wet sand shimmered with a milky haze. The onshore breeze brought a chill in the heat of the day. The beach was teeming with people: mothers chasing children, joggers, couples strolling hand in hand sharing an intimate moment in nature. The low-water line runs three kilometers away from the high mark, and it took Jasper and me fifteen minutes to reach the edge of the water. Jasper jumped in the shallow water, his old legs too weak to chase the seagulls anymore. I felt exhilarated. Nothing in life soothed me and nourished my happiness more than being close to the ocean. I stared out over the expanse of glistening water to the horizon.

My thoughts filled with Chris. I was convinced that we were infinite, entering new realms of life with each other, about to go through doors that others would never understand. That’s what I loved; he took me to higher planes. My body tingled thinking about his passion for me. I had never felt anything like it before. Willingly, I was lost in his desire, his love. His words from last night resurfaced in my mind. You are my soul mate. My treasure. His words deepened my love, my adoration of him. Pushed out of my mind in my need for him were the clues to his wavering behavior, his capricious moods.

I dropped Jasper back to mum’s and went home to dress for the fuction at the Mansion House. Just before I left the house to make my way to the even where I had organized to meet Chris, I sent an email to the Candidate with a cc to Mary, the Candidates PA

Dear Candidate,

I regret that as a result of ongoing narrow-minded harassment from Cathal O’Donoghue, I no longer feel comfortable actively working on the campaign. He frustrates the smooth management of the campaign. The money bomb is not going to work if the support system does not kick in to promote and implement it. I have done as much as I can. I will, of course, continue to help you in the background trying to raise funds. I have to be straight up, though, and make you aware that my efforts are not very fruitful. The big issue is the lack of a coherent strategy and the negative press coverage.

I tried to explain on a number of occasions that I cannot operate solo with fundraising. Due to the late entry into the campaign, some imaginative initiatives, which also would have complied with the guidelines, are now proving very difficult to deliver due to Cathal’s ongoing resistance to me.

A decision was made by Cathal and, from my understanding, supported by you, to exclude me from the campaign management meetings. This has had a highly detrimental effect on funding. I respect your decision, however I fail to understand it.

All the best,

Aliki

I arrived at the Mansion House, the home of the Dublin Lord Mayor, a little late. The awards ceremony was taking place in the Round Room, a large circular banquet hall with a fantastic dome ceiling drenched in a black cloth from which shinning stars shone down on us. I entered and stood at the back of the room, trying to spot Chris. Not spotting him, I sent him a text. He texted me back, telling me to look to the left. There he was, standing against a high table, with a blond girl. Fixed on him, I strode through the jovial crowd. He raised his head and looked toward me as he sensed me approaching. The hue of his blue eyes struck me even at a distance. His face remained austerely handsome, yet his gaze softened at the sight of me. He moved around the table, catching me by my elbows, and discreetly kissed me on each cheek.

“Come and meet Jen.”

“Jen, this is the amazing woman I was telling you all about.”

We shook hands.

“I know Jen’s family,” Chris said, explaining the connection.

I thought they appeared quite familiar with each other. She was a pleasant-looking young woman, her bright blond hair and large baby-blue eyes her biggest attraction. Chris explained that she was looking for a job in the hospitality business in London. He thought with my connections I could help.

“Of course, Jen. I would be happy to help. Can you forward your CV to Chris and I will follow up,” I said.

Chris excused us and led me to the campaign table. Mary bristled when she saw me with Chris. Cathal, seated next to the Candidate, looked apoplectic. I gave him a little wave and smile from across the table as I took my seat between Lillian and Chris. The Candidate gave me a muted greeting. Obviously Cathal’s spin against me was working. Tonight the Candidate was receiving an award voted by the public for his human rights achievement. I was taken aback that in such a public place , he was knocking back the wine. His personality always attracted lots of attention and tonight was no exception. He became engrossed in the people coming over to talk to him, be photographed with him or get his autograph. As the evening wore on, the group around our table cloaked the Candidate so thatI could not see the Candidate through the throngs around hi.

lillies-bordelloRelaxed from the couple of glasses of wine we’d had at the event, Chris and I decided to head over to Lillie’s Bordello. Hand in hand, we dodged the soft rain as we hastily made our way to the nearby club. The interior felt like an erotic whorehouse, bathed in red light emanating from crystal chandlers. Gilt-framed paintings of nude women adorned the walls, and sections of the room cordoned off by wrought-iron frames were sumptuously furnished. I started moving to the pounding dance music, though Chris seemed less free, even a little embarrassed to dance. I took his hand and guided him to the sparsely populated dance floor. As I scoped the place out, I was surprised to note how few people were there, especially for a Saturday night. The recession must have been hitting hard. As we hit the dance floor, Chris took control and firmly kept me moving towards the sitting area at the back of the club. I danced around him, teasing him to join, but he resisted. He sunk into a large sultry velvet couch, pulling me down with him. He caught my face in his hands and gave me a long, lingering kiss while a compilation of Bruno Mars played:

When I see your face (face, face…)

There’s not a thing that I would change

‘Cause you’re amazing (amazing)

Just the way you are (are)

What you don’t understand is

I’d catch a grenade for ya

Throw my hand on a blade for ya…

We ordered two Caipirinha from a passing waiter. Chris took me on his knee, and we kissed with abandonment like teenagers in love. The waiter interrupted us with our drinks. As I sipped mine, I swayed to the music, straddling Chris’s knee, arching my back and moving my hips.

“I want to know what goes on up here,” I said, brushing my glass against his temple. “What goes on in that strongly guarded mind of yours?”

He took my free hand, turned it palm up and touched his lips to the tip of each finger.

“You don’t want to know,” he said earnestly. “I have a lot of issues.”

“Oh, babe, we all do,” I replied soothingly.

“I am afraid if I let you in, let you see my fears, my bad moments, I will lose you.”

“I have seen some of it. I am still here. You will never lose me.”

“Why do you love me?”

“Because…”

He pressed a finger to my lips.

“No. On second thought, don’t tell me now. We are just starting our journey together in this lonely world. You don’t know yet. Don’t tell me until you know you mean it.”

“I do know,” I insisted. “Of course I mean it. I wouldn’t tell you I loved you if I didn’t.” Knocking back my drink, I threw out the same question to him.

“Why do you love me?”

He caught my hips and shifted me off his knee while giving me a quick kiss.

“I could murder another drink,” he exclaimed. “I’ll go to the bar and get them.”

I jumped up. “No, let’s dance, I love the Script.”

“I don’t dance,” he replied sheepishly, putting his arm around my waist.

“Come on. You will be beautiful on the dance floor.”

“No, let’s have another drink,” he said. I swung around to face him, jovially singing along:

Shit talking up all night,
Doing things we haven’t for a while,
A while, yeah…

“You’re nuts,” Chris said fondly, as he gently pushed me back into the couch and went to get our drinks.

We arrived back to Chris’s house late and fell into bed tired and drunk.

Sunday October 16

The Sunday papers, as I had anticipated, made no mention of the money bomb launch. We were having an early breakfast at Brown’s Café while scanning the papers. The early hour of nine thirty afforded us respite from the hustle and bustle of families that would invade the place by eleven am. Both of us were nursing a thumping hangover. My mouth dry from one too many Cyprians and my eyes stinging and tired from just a couple of hours’ sleep, I desperately needed my latte to bring some life back into my body.

“Not a mention of the money bomb,” I said, pushing the papers away from me. Buried in the papers, Chris ignored my comment.

“I am going to go to mass today. Take my parents.” Chris looked up from the papers, the rims of his eyes red with tiredness. He was very religious and normally went to mass with his parents every Sunday. The campaign schedule had disrupted his routine.

“Why do you go to mass?” I asked.

He looked at me with slight disdain. “What a stupid question. We have to go to mass.”

“Why do we have to go to mass?”

“If you are a Christian, you are obliged to go to church.”

Chris went back to the papers. I slowly sipped my latte.

“So you believe in God?” I blurted out.

“Yes, of course. And I believe there is a devil.”

“Wow, you go to mass because you are scared of the devil?” I asked disbelievingly.

“Well, it’s as good a reason as any. It also makes me good,” he retorted.

“What? That’s rubbish. So if a rapist goes to mass, you think that makes him good?” Giving me a scornful look, he continued reading the papers. I said nothing more. I spent the rest of the day pondering Chris’s words.

The campaign continued into chaos. I did my best, but amongst all the friction, the backstabbing and the frenzied behavior by the Candidate I was seriously hampered. Each day, his reputation was eroded even further with some new revelation or behavior. The press ran sensational headlines that drove the Candidate nuts. Joe spent most of his time protecting the Candidate, managing a man out of control. The campaign had transcended to absurdity. The Candidate’s three-pillar message was gone with the wind. I was struggling to achieve anything. I detached myself completely from the team. I worked out of Chris’s office and did not engage at all with Cathal. Chris, against the Candidate’s wishes, went on some of the canvassing routes to deal with local press and I accompanied him.

Our one and only major fundraising event, to which a number of high-profile businesspeople and celebrities were coming, was literally a wash out.

It was Monday October 24th, four days before the election, and the night of the big debate on television. All the candidates would have a number of minutes to convince the electorate to vote for them. We planned the event from 7 to 9 pm, followed by the debate on a large screen. But that day, the city experienced torrential rain—one month’s rain fell in that one day. Rivers, such as in South Dublin where we were based, burst their banks, and rising waters subsumed roads around the capital city. Chris drove Lillian and I to the venue, his jeep splashing through the rising water. My mobile was receiving messages by the dozen, all people cancelling. Chris was called away by the Candidate, who was stranded in his house and needed Chris who drove a four-wheel jeep to get him to the TV studio. And then to compound things, the venue developed a leak in its wine cellar and back room. So there we were, along with the staff, helping to collect the water. Not surprisingly, no one turned up. The roads leading to the venue eventually became impassable as the water from the river across the road continued to rise. I could not believe what was happening. Ironically, the Candidate performed very well in the debate. Maybe because he had nothing to lose at this stage, he relaxed and spoke in a calm, collected fashion. The debate’s host sensationally exposed the favorite, the front-runner, as a liar. For a change, the following day’s bad-news headline was focused on someone other than the Candidate.

Except for the rare evening when I was with my husband and Chris with his parents, we spent virtually all our time together, working, socializing, talking and fucking. Our love deepened in the intensity of the hours spent together. Time flew by, and we arrived at the day of voting.

Eventide Love #3/4 to be published Saturday August 22.


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