A Spring Legend


 Completing the Puzzle

A Winter Tale

 

Jinx knew a lot of things. He knew his local football team would never make it to the top of the league, but he supported them regardless. He knew he wasn’t good looking in a drop-dead gorgeous kind of way. By the same token nor was he ugly. He was an ordinary boy-next-door type with a sweet smile and neat ears, or so his grandma had told him.
He knew he preferred thin peel breakfast marmalade to thick peel, something his mother just couldn’t seem to get her head around, so that when he visited home he’d have to stoically chew on what felt like strands of bootlace because he knew she’d bought the marmalade especially for him.


He knew his father was a man called Harry Coulter, but he’d never actually met him. In fact his mother had only met him once, at a friend’s wedding. It was a relationship caught like the bride’s bouquet at the height of a happy moment, but which expired before the bridal blooms had even wilted.


He also knew the nickname Jinx would be with him until the day he parted company with life and his legal name, David Jenkins, appeared on the brass plaque on his coffin lid, thus confusing his friends and leading them to exclaim, who the hell is that? Are we at the wrong funeral?


Childhood nicknames are hard to shake off and sometimes Jinx doubted he had another name in any concrete sense. His bio father’s surname had been Coulter, but Jinx had never shared it. His mother’s surname was Trent before she married Eddie Jenkins, the man who subsequently adopted David at the age of six. He became David Jenkins and finally Jinx to differentiate him from the three other Davids he shared a classroom with, one of whom he had a secret crush on throughout his school life.


Being in possession of a nickname early on in life had its advantages. It meant that when it came to creating an email account he had a ready made ‘emaily’ sort of name and didn’t have to invent one. He was Jinx101. Occasionally he harboured a regret that he hadn’t chosen something more fantastical, like the email addies chosen by blokes whose genitalia had taken over their lives and become an entity separate from the person that transported it around. Names like Wellhung, Everhard or 9andahalfinches. Yeah, Jinx knew a lot of things. He knew that a bloke whose email address was 9andahalfinches was probably seven at the very most.


Jinx knew other stuff. He knew that in order to get ahead you needed to get an education. So he studied hard and won a place at university. His chosen university had an active gay social scene and he was determined to take full advantage of it. For a while he lost control of everything but his groin region. His first year at uni looked in danger of becoming his last as he disregarded the golden rule about fitting in a few lectures and essays between partying and screwing. Consequently tutors made complaints when papers failed to be submitted. 


This was the point in his life when he met Jim Chambers. Jim was a student counsellor. Like Jinx he was gay, and he could remember what it was like to go through those euphoric days of self-discovery and existing from the waist down only. He counselled Jinx wisely. He helped him organise his social and work schedules, so that one didn’t cancel out the other. Consequently Jinx wasn’t booted ignominiously out of university with only an STD to show for his endeavours. 


Jim was a few years older than Jinx but they got on well together and once the official counselling sessions were over they became good friends.
During Jinx’s all-important final year his adoptive father died suddenly of a heart attack. It came out of the blue one Saturday afternoon, while he was in the midst of cheering on his local football team. The St John Ambulance volunteers did their best to revive him, but to no avail. He was gone.


Jinx was surprised by the grief that engulfed him for the quiet man who had married his mother and given his name to a child who wasn’t his own, a man who had staunchly been there during the lego years, the seaside days and the acne moments. He hadn’t realised how much he wanted that man to be proud of him and how much he had been looking forward to him being present when he received his degree.


It’s funny how you never really know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Jinx regretted all the words of gratitude and affection left unspoken for the man whose surname, he now understood, he carried with pride and love. That was when Jinx, who as a student already drank too much, began to drink way too much in order to dull the pain of unsaid words.
Jim helped him through it. He was a shoulder to cry on, someone who listened and comforted. He was the man who physically hauled Jinx out of The Star And Garter the night before an important exam. He walked him miles in the fresh air and made him drink enough water for it to fall under the category of torture. He then stayed with him all night to ensure he woke up sober and got to his exam.

He was also the man who solemnly promised Jinx that if he got drunk again before his finals were over he would tan his foolhardy backside. In fact if he ever resorted to the bottle instead of friendship in the event of any future problems, he would do the same.  Jinx had blushed at the threat, but not really believed it. Still, he made sure he didn’t get drunk again until his exams were over.


Jinx got his degree with honours and landed a good job in the same city as the university he got it from. Life was sweet. He and Jim remained firm friends. They met up at least twice a week for a meal or to go to the cinema or just to chat over a pint in the pub. When something bothered Jinx he called Jim to talk it out and knew he could rely on getting honest advice. They sometimes messaged online during work hours and all in all they were part of the warp and woof of each other’s lives.


The days shaped themselves into weeks then months and seasons that flowed one into another and the years fell from the calendar.


There was something Jinx didn’t know. He didn’t know he was in love with Jim. He thought they were just great friends, but they weren’t. They were lovers in all senses but sex. Did he but know it, Jinx had begun the process of falling in love in his second year at university. It happened on a fine day in mid-October when he and Jim were sitting by the river, watching kingfishers dive, admiring their azure livery. He had shivered as a cool autumn breeze wrapped itself about him. Draping an arm around his shoulders Jim had pulled him close against his side and shared body heat with him, as they talked and laughed.

 

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