Chapter 1: The Book Launch

Frederick sat at his table. He looked out of the window then down at his laptop. It was still dark morning when I walked past. He was wearing green and blue pyjamas and a red and black woolly hat. I waved. He raised a hand in mournful benediction.

A year or so later, Frederick invited me to the launch of his new book. He knew I was a fan though I had never said so and we had never spoken about his work. I never heard a sound up through the floor from his flat except for what I called his Wagner nights and he never complained to me.

His publisher spoke first: Ladies and gentlemen, Frederick will start the evening by reading the very first few paragraphs of his new thriller. You will be the very first people to hear, or read, this new story. There will then be time for questions.

Frederick cleared his throat. “His next victim walked past his window and waved jauntily. He clearly suspected nothing. He thought the killer was his friend. Edinburgh people were like that. They took lack of open hostility as friendship.”

I stopped listening. His next victim?

Then Deep met my brother

My brother was my brother. There, always there when I needed him and when he needed me. Years later I paid him the greatest compliment I thought when I called him my friend.

I met Deep through friends of friends of friends. Three degrees of separation or of closeness. Long time no see a lot of times but still close whenever. I called him brother from another mother and he did the same.

Then Deep met my brother. They were more than close, they were tight. Still are. Love them both.

Today has been

Today has been a day of swings from yins to roundabout yangs. Some favourite things – sunshine, watermelon, friendship – and others not so tip top: wind skipping up sand, warm water and jellyfish in the shallows. But when the rain came and there was one umbrella for all of us, how many could take shelter? All of us, of course, because that is always the answer. All of us, together. All of us.

We have grown old

Invecchiati simu, frate.

Yes, you’re right. We have grown old apart
distant in distance and distant in time
but friendship is deeper than years.

We will always be brothers, brother;
our hands still hold the thin blade scars.

I see your face and you are your father
as he was when we were young
and ran and swam and threw stones at the sentries.

We will always be brothers, brother;
our heads still hold the baton scars.

And now we may be old my brother
and our bones may ache in the morning mist
but when they come to cut the trees
the trees which hold the world together
we will be there and we will be waiting
hand in hand and scar to scar.