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The International Writers Magazine
Guy Block Stories

Parental Block
Mark Cunliffe

There comes a time for everyone when you have to meet someone you used to know. The very fact that there are billions and trillions of people in this world and that you do not meet them all yet continue to meet the same people, the blasts from the pasts is an odd one. But that is what we do.

For Guy Block it was a habitual hazard. When you have put it about as much as he has you are absolutely certain to bump into old flames. No matter how much water has supposedly doused them over the years rather than simply flowed under the bridge.

It was a big problem for Guy, simply because there had been so many conquests over the years that he may recognise them but quite often could not name them. It became a game almost.
Call My Muff you might say

It’s being reminded of the past that is the awful thing. Times when you were happy, times when you were sad, times you are embarrassed about, a time when you were young. However there are sometimes when even a coward like Block has to bite the bullet, to put on hold his sexual present and instead face up to his sexual past and see his daughter.

Rhiannon was now 30 years of age and bluntly, Guy Block had never really been there for her. She was a product of the 1970s, hence the name given to her, a tribute to the Fleetwood Mac song of the same name. Back in the day Guy had been living with Rhiannon’s mother, Angelica, an American lecturer who was new age even before the old one had finished. Slender, slim, pert, blonde, vegetarian and yoga addicted, in short, hell to live with. But they had their moments, usually in the bedroom and from one of them came Rhiannon.

As the train shunted into London Euston, Guy was reminded of the day he and Angelica broke up. She was complaining of his drinking and recreational drug use for a while but especially of his recreational sex with others. Their time had come; they knew that the relationship had died. They had sex by way of saying goodbye, it was the 70s after all, and when that was over, Guy had played ‘Angie’ by The Rolling Stones by way of summarising something and apologising for everything. As he left the flat he kissed baby Rhiannon on the head and smelt deeply the aroma that only young babies have one last time.

He crossed the ticket barrier and walked through the mezzanine looking almost in a daze. He recalled the two other times he had seen his daughter, once at the age of twelve at a school sports day her mother invited him along to, and the other was the last time they met. It had been three years since, too long. They met back then at her request, she had reached an age where she realised that being adult doesn’t necessarily make you wise and that having a child doesn’t necessarily make you a father. In short she had forgiven him. Up ahead stood a slim girl wrapped in a long Oxfam coat. She waved across and Guy walked towards her, his daughter.
"Hello Dad" she said
"Rhi" Guy stammered, a little more than usual and let out a heavy sigh, a little heavier than usual. After a brief pause they hugged each other tight
"Haha!" Guy called out joyously
"Dad, you’re embarrassing me" Rhiannon said muffled by his overcoat.
"Good" said Guy and finally pulled away to drink in his daughter’s appearance. She was beautiful. An elfin face with wide green eyes looked up at him, her pleasant features crowned by a shock of short feathery natural blonde hair. Guy couldn’t resist ruffling it with his hand and she giggled as he did so.
"How are you?" she asked of him
"Good, phew, yeah good, and you?"
"I’m great thanks" she replied
"And…. umm…. how’s your mother?" he asked tentatively
"She’s fine" Rhiannon replied as they started to walk through the crowds out of the station.
"Pity" Guy said jokingly, gaining a nudge from his daughter.

They found a table in a little jazz café, the type that house a little combo who try to deafen you with absurd time signatures as you eat and drink. As their drinks order arrived Rhiannon asked; "How are my little step siblings?"
Ah the terrible twins. Jeremy and Jemima, from Guy’s second attempt at an adult relationship. How can you summarise what are essentially the spawn of the devil, the real life Damien’s?
"Fine, lovely" Guy lied
"Liar. They’re a living hell huh?" Rhiannon countered with a giggle
Guy snorted a laugh and agreed.
"Well it’s your fault for having kids at your age!"
"I’m in my fifties! It isn’t old you know, Mick Jagger can still have kids so can I, besides Francine wanted children, she’s a lot younger and her biological thingy was y’know going thingy" Guy wailed impotently. Though as he did he pondered that maybe it’s a pity that the only impotence he had was vocally.
" You’re in your mid fifties, and it is old, old enough to cut out the lechery" Rhiannon said, only half teasing, "I read a piece in Private Eye about you again the other week, ‘The Eros Of English Departments’ how you keep hold of your job I do not know, Dad it's embarrassing"
"The swines, you shouldn’t believe everything you read you know" Guy admonished before adding after a slight pause "even if it is true" he smirked
"How’s Francine?" Rhiannon asked
"French" Guy batted back quickly as if her nationality explained her manner. "No she’s ok, sends her love"
"She’d have to be ok coping with you, are you living together at the moment?"
"Aah…phew…well no, ummm, not, ummm…"
"Umm! Umm!" Rhiannon mocked, "Dad, you sound like a Red Indian from The Dandy, spit it out"
"No, not at the mo" he replied quietly
"Ah. Who said lightning couldn’t strike twice?" Rhiannon said rhetorically.
"Oh come on now Francine knows what I’m like, she was a student herself y’know that’s how I met her, she knows my predilections and anyway…" Guy started
"No Dad it’s true, and I don’t mean your student shagging though that’s bad enough, I mean you and kids, those kids are growing up just the same as me, fatherless"
The mood had dropped dramatically. This was not going well.

Waiters have the natural timing of the finest comedians, either that or state of the art bugging devices that the CIA can only dream of. Either way just as Rhiannon had spat out her words part angrily and part upset, the waiter appeared and lay down their plates.
They ate in relative silence.
As they finished and Guy dabbed his mouth with a napkin, "thanks for the birthday card" he said softly.
"You got it?" she asked not looking up. "Good"
"Look I am sorry you know," Guy said pleadingly
"I know, I know," she admitted.
"I can’t change, I never have been able to really, not for your mother, not for Francine, not for you, not even for myself" he replied honestly, and after a pause added, "It doesn’t mean that I don’t think that you are the best thing that ever happened to me, nor that I don’t love you very, very much, I do" he moved his hand across the white table cloth and held it palm open.

Rhiannon clasped it and with a slight tear in her eye said, "Thanks. I love you too, and I think you have changed in some way, you prove that every time you say those words"
It isn’t many girls who have made Guy Block cry. Scream with rage or despair, feel sorry for himself and say Bollocks to them all yes, but cry, no. Those that did were beautiful, and Rhiannon was the most beautiful of all.
He picked up his napkin and dabbed at his eyes.
"I know" his daughter said, "It’s this bloody music isn’t it?" she added loudly and immediately they both laughed as the confused and wounded looking jazz musicians on the tiny stage nearby stopped playing.

Later, Rhiannon walked back to Euston with her father, arm in arm, both happy in each other’s company.
"What are you doing at the moment?" Guy asked after his daughter as she snuggled her head further into the crook where his shoulder met his arm.
"Still studying, working part time on reception in some crappy office and generally enjoying life," she answered
"Boyfriend?" Guy asked
"Not as such, I still sometimes see Nathan," she replied
Guy stopped short. "Not that face painting prick? I thought you’d have got shot of him"
"Ah! Dad, Dad, you cannot complain about my love life!"
Guy twitched and stopped himself short of replying. He blew out his breath and looked up at the timetable. "Oh well, my train is in. I, err, I best go"
They hugged once more, and as they parted, Rhiannon gave him a small bag with something inside "Present" she explained.
Guy looked down and took the bag, before pulling out a bag from his own pocket.
"Snap" he said and they smiled warmly at each other.

They bid goodbye and walked off into the evening.
Guy got on the train and opened up the bag. He smiled warmly at the CD before him, The Rolling Stones album Goats Head Soup that featured the song Angie.
Rhiannon stopped at a lamppost that lit the London street ahead of her a beautiful burnt orange. She fumbled at the bag and smiled warmly at the CD before her, the Fleetwood Mac album that featured the song Rhiannon.

"Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye?"
Angie by Jagger/Richards
"Would you stay if she promised you Heaven?"
Rhiannon by Nicks

© mark cunliffe July 2007
Building Block
Mark Cunliffe
Eddie Cochran once sang of love as being a journey built on ‘Three Steps To Heaven’;
'Step one - you find a girl to love
Step two - she falls in love with you...'
Round The Block
Mark Cunliffe

"Wouldn’t you agree Prof. Block?"
How would he know. Guy Block hadn’t been listening.

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