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How are you feeling, young man?" Bryn asked, as he climbed into the back of the ambulance, his tinfoil blanket and sat beside Gavin.
"I'm doing OK, Bryn," He replied, weakly, pulling his oxygen mask away from his mouth so he could talk.
Bryn looked his nephew-in-law up and down as he lay on the stretcher, taking in his frailty, before adding. "I'm so sorry, Gavin,"
"W…wasn't your fault, Bryn." He gasped, as he struggled for breath.
"Put it back on!" Bryn said, moving it back towards his mouth.
"I'm scared, Bryn," Gavin whispered, a few moments later, removing the mask as he spoke then replacing it again.
"No, now you listen here and you listen good!" Bryn leant closer to him and taking hold of his hand. "I'm here with you, we are going to get you to hospital and everything is going to be fine!" Then he added. "Now you just keep talking to me, you hear me? You just keep talking!"
"Tell me a secret," He demanded, "Something no one else knows – not even Stacey!"
Gavin looked at him, "I don't like omelettes," he answered.
Bryn smiled, "Well, I never," he paused, "Now me I suppose… I should tell you what really happened on The Fishing Trip…" He swallowed, preparing himself after all these years to bring the events out into the open.
"Bryn… you don't have to." Gavin protested, weakly, part of him not wanting to know.
"No, no." Bryn insisted, "It needs to be told, Gavin." He swallowed once more. "Well, I suppose it starts at the beginning," he began. "July 24th 1977, I was just sixteen years old, you see and Trevor, God rest his soul, Trevor, had just found out Gwen was pregnant with Jason and if I'm honest, he went off the rails… burglaries, orgies, fights, what have you. And he tried to get me to go along with him. Cheated on Gwen he did," He paused.
"Anyway, we went to Cardiff to a club – Pixies. Where we met two girls – Delores and Stacey… we each went off together, me with Delores and Trevor with Stacey. They went on to have an affair, they did Gav. Stacey's named after her. Promise you won't tell, Gwen?" He added, "It would destroy her, Gavin,"
Gavin nodded, silently as Bryn resumed his story.
"We each got a room at the Dog and Arms. So Trevor and Stacey went off to do the dirty in their room and I was left with Delores in mine… but, I couldn't do it, Gavin. I felt physically repulsed by her, so after a while, she got bored and went to join Trevor and Stacey. For years, I couldn't understand why. But it came to me just after my nineteenth birthday, sort of like an epiphany. 'Cos you see, Gav, I'm gay."
Gavin smiled in response, "Bryn, I've known that since I met you," he replied.
"Oh heck," Bryn replied quietly, and continued. "For years, I kept it secret. Until Jason came to me when he was eighteen and told me he thought he might be gay." He smiled, wistfully,
"Well of course, I rang, Trevor, and he came over and Jason told him. Hit the roof he did, Gavin. Started shouting at him, calling him all sorts of horrible, horrible names. I couldn't stand by and let him do that, so, before I knew it, I told him to shut 'the fuck up,' – still to this day I can't believe I did that – and said there was nothing wrong with it, because I was gay too." He paused for a moment, and continued.
"Jason moved to Spain a few months later and I always blamed myself. But Trevor, God rest his soul, accepted him and forgave me… a few months later, he was diagnosed with cancer. He died about a year after that." Tears rolled down his cheeks and he gave a little chuckle. "Oh look at me," he said, wiping his eyes, "what am I like,"
"You're a great man," Gavin answered, truthfully. "It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight, you're a great man,"
Bryn swallowed and squeezed Gavin's hand. "Thank you, Gavin." He replied and added. "It was the fishing trip that ruined it all."
"It was the anniversary of Trevor's death, five years. Jason comes back, every year, it was a particularly messy year, so I said I'd take him fishing, because Gwen was taking Stacey to see her Nana in Penarth. Now, we had been there about three days, when the coldest winds in twenty years arrived. We booked into a hotel when the tents collapsed. But it was still cold, Gavin, so cold. The room had Sky, and I was flicking channels when I found, how shall I put it? An adult programme, for people like myself and Jason."
"Gay Porn?" Gavin checked,
"Yes, Gavin, but there's no need to be crude," Bryn stated.
"Sorry," he apologised, "carry on,"
"The owner of the hotel had made a big vat of soup and insisted we all take some up to bed with us." He carried on, then added. "Leek and Potato it was, all nice and frothy – absolutely spectacular."
"Anyway, this show was getting a bit frisky and the room seemed to get colder and colder, so I put my mug on my tummy to see if that would way me up. There was a loud crash from outside and it made me jump, spilling my soup all down my pyjamas. I completely forgot about the movie and tried to clear it up…"
Finally, realisation dawning on Gavin, he interrupted, "When Jason walked in."
"Precisely… and he saw. Well, he saw what he wanted to see and immediately he jumped to conclusions. But… Oh, just the look on his face Gavin! I will never forget that. He wouldn't listen to what had really happen. We drove back the next morning, the entire situation was just so awkward, I was ashamed of myself. I mean what would Trevor have said? Or my Mother? I tried to black it out and the only way to do that was to shut Jason out and we didn't speak properly for nearly four years." He concluded.
Silence ensued. "To be honest, Bryn I was expecting a lot worse." Gavin told him.
"Well it feels good to get it off my chest," Bryn confessed, "How are you feeling?"
"I'm really cold, Bryn, I'm so cold," He replied, truthfully. Bryn immediately stood up.
"I'll get a Paramedic to come and see to you, I'll just be a minute." He said, but Gavin spoke out before he could move.
"No, Bryn, please don't leave me on my own!" He begged, "look listen. Tell Stace…" he groaned out. "Tell Stacey, that she made me the happiest man alive." He paused, then added. "And tell her I'm sorry, tell her I'm so sorry,"
"C'mon, what have you got to be sorry about?" Bryn asked, sitting back down.
"I'm sorry because I don't think I'm gonna see my baby," he replied, as he struggled more and more to keep his eyelids open.
"No, Gavin, I won't stand for this talk!" Bryn ordered, "now you listen here, and you listen good. You will be fine! And you will see your little baby and you will see Stacey and you'll have more children and you'll be fine."
Gavin continued, ignoring Bryn's interruption. "Promise me you'll look after them both? Promise?"
Bryn shook his head. "No, I refuse to have anything to do with either of them!" He insisted, "So you have no choice but to stay!"
"Promise me you'll be as good Uncle to my kid as you've been to Stacey, 'cos I know if I don't make this, they'll be safe with you," he concluded.
Bryn looked at him and nodded. "I promise,"
Gavin smiled, weakly, and unable to fight it anymore he let the blackness engulf him…