A couple of weeks ago HDK posted a story called "Hello Goodbye." I was reading the first page when something came up and I had to leave it. Well, the way the old brain box works meant that whilst I was driving to my appointment I played with the scenario in my head and came up with a very different story to HDK's. As always I must thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for proof reading and editing this story
I can remember the night as if it was yesterday. There I was just sitting watching the local evening news program on the old telly, my wife Penny was sitting over the other side of the room looking at me with a very curious expression on her face. The trouble she had was she just couldn't bring herself to tell me what was on her mind. Why? Well, for two reasons really. One, because I don't think she could believe it herself, and two, because if she did bring the subject up, she knew she was going to open a whole can of worms that she would rather had been kept very tightly closed.
I have to go back a year or so to before that night to when this all started. We'd bought this big old farmhouse out in the country about five or six years earlier. It had had a couple of nice big old stone barns in the yard just right for conversion. We'd lived in the old farmhouse whilst we converted the larger barn into our dream home. Or rather our builders did. Penny and I were just around all the time to make sure we got exactly what we wanted. Then after we'd moved into the barn we had the guys give the farmhouse the once over and, at the same time, they converted the smaller of the barns into a holiday cottage come guest-house.
The idea had been to sell the farmhouse and rent out the holiday cottage during the summer. As it turned out things didn't quite go that way. There's some USAF people stationed at a nearby RAF base and the farmhouse finished up getting rented out to an USAF officer and his family for about a year. He didn't want to buy a house, as he wasn't expecting to stay in England very long. The cash if we had sold, would have been handy. But the Yank offered us a bloody good rent so we let him have it. One of his colleagues rented the holiday cottage also at a good rate. So my Penny and I were happy.
Eighteen months later both of our tenants' tours of duty in England came to an end and they and their nice families - whom Penny and I had gotten along very well with - went home to the States. For some reason we didn't put the house back on the market. We'd been so happy with the income from renting, we thought we would try to rent it out again.
I came home from work one evening, to be met at the door by Penny who had the biggest smile on her face. "I've rented the house!" she grinned at me. "The contracts are all signed and everything!"
Penny had taken me completely by surprise. "What do you mean, you've rented the house?" I demanded. I suppose I must have sounded quite shocked and maybe a little annoyed. "To whom and without me even meeting them? Did you even bother to get a reference?"
The smile faded a little on Penny's face. "Oh, we don't need a reference for these people, Pete, you're never going to believe who they are!"
"Well, who they are doesn't bother me as much as if they can and will pay the bleeding rent on time."
"How about a year up front, in cash? Well, a cheque actually, will that suit you?"
"It sounds a little too good to be true actually. Who the hell are they, millionaires or something?"
"No. Oh, I don't know though. I suppose they might well be, but the TV company's paying the rent for them anyway."
"You're losing me, girl. Who've you rented the bloody house to?"
"Brooke Marsh, the TV newsreader woman and her husband. You know the actor bloke Stephone Walters."
"Christ, Stephone Walters. I thought he got killed a couple of years ago! Don't I remember hearing he had a bad accident on the news, some time back?"
"No, he wasn't killed but he had a really serious accident. He says he's almost completely recovered from it now and he's just as dreamy as he's ever been."
I could see by the silly look that came over Penny's face that she liked the idea of having a film star living in the farmhouse. Why is it that people swoon over these famous people? They are just human beings like the rest of us. Although even I must admit that Stephone Walters is a handsome bastard.
"They were looking for somewhere nice and quiet around here, where Stephone could convalesce as Brooke is going to be presenting a daytime chat show on the telly. They thought this was just the place they looking for. Quiet, private, off the beaten track and far enough from the road that Stephone's fans or the paparazzi, if they hang around outside the gate hoping to see him, won't be too much of a nuisance"
I had to admit, Brooke was one of the sexiest announcers on the telly. I did enjoy watching her read the news. But she hadn't been on the BBC since she had married Stephone. "Oh, bugger, if Brooke's going to be on daytime TV, that means I wont get to see that much of her." Brooke is really something to look at. Hey, what do you expect? I'm a man, aren't I?
"Why would you want to see her on the telly when she'll be living next door? You'll probably see her all the time."
Oh, yeah. I can just see Brooke Marsh and Stephone Walters, mixing with a couple of old fogies like us!"
"I'm sure we'll see a lot of them. They seemed very nice. I told Stephone that you wouldn't mind him using your gym."
"You did what?" When we'd converted the barn, I'd put one room aside that overlooks the swimming pool (I told you it was our dream home) as a gym and fitted the place out with all the latest training gear. No, I'm not a fitness freak. I don't really work out that much but I like to play about with the stuff a bit. You know, it's the macho man bit. I'm one of those people who just didn't put on the weight over the years. Eighteen years after my wedding I could still get into the suit that I'd walked down the aisle in. I'm afraid I can't say the same for Penny though, although she still looks damn good to me. It was for her that I really put the gym in although up until then she hadn't been too enthusiastic about using it.
"Surely you don't object to Stephone using the gym. You hardly ever use it!"
"I don't know," I thought to myself, if Penny's heartthrob uses the bloody gym. Perhaps she'll spend some time in there herself. "No, of course not. It's all right by me. Providing he doesn't hog the bloody place."
"I should imagine he'll only use it during the day when Brooke is at the TV station and you're at work. Although I suppose he'll probably want to use it on the weekends sometimes as well."
Now the more astute of you might be wondering why I was not worried that "Stephone Walters" this so-called Adonis who Penny was so keen on. Was going to be in my house with my wife - who to all intent and purpose, thought the sun shone out of his arse - during the day whilst I was out at the office.
Well, the point is, I'm fifty-two and Penny is fifty-one. Stephone Walters, is nearly half our age or there about. Penny is old enough to be his mother. And from what I'd heard, before he married Brooke, he had hundreds of young women chasing him. What possible interest could he find in a slightly tubby mother of two?
"And remember," Penny was still trying to persuade me that Stephone using the gym was a good idea. "If Brooke comes over with him on the weekends, you'll get to see her in her training gear and swim suit. Hey, maybe she uses a bikini. I'd bet you'd like that, you old perv. I told them they could use the pool whenever they wished."
It looked to me that Penny had presented me with a fait accompli. And she was making plans to enjoy having a couple of famous people as our tenants. I could do nothing but accept the arrangements she had made.
Brooke and Stephone (Christ, where do they get these stupid stage names from? I'll bet he was John Smith or Fred Bloggs on his birth certificate) moved in a few days later. Surprisingly I found they were very nice people. I had somehow gotten the idea that they would be vain or something but - for the most part - they were very normal. Well, that is until Stephone's fans found out where he was living. Then the shit really did hit the fan. (Pun not intended)
I was surprised at the front of some of his fans. They just walked up the drive and stationed themselves outside the front door of the farmhouse. Or in the garden, or the trees, or the bushes by the house. Or even in my bloody garage when it was raining. Anywhere they fancied actually! The bloody newspaper photographers were even worse. Paparazzi, they call them. Jesus, those arseholes were hiding everywhere you could think of and some places you wouldn't.
We had to call the police a few times to have them removed. The problem was solved by having the boundary fence upgraded to a six foot chain link affair and having automatic gates installed, plus a privacy fence around the swimming pool area. Quite an expensive business with all the CCTV and such. Look, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth, as luckily the TV company paid the major proportion of the cost.
.... There is more of this story ...