All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015

The End

You step from the jetty onto the boat. There are lights everywhere. In the saloon, a full-blown party is in swing. Couples are dancing to a small jazz band on a tiny red stage at the end. "I'm your guardian angel, down from heaven to take you....."The crooner is whispering the words into the big radio city style microphone. He is looking over toward the door where you stand.

the end

You walk to the bar, squeezing through the pirouetting dancers who turn and smile as you pass. The barman waltzes toward you with a glass in each hand. He takes a deep swig from one and passes you the other. It is Dr. Logos, in a high black tuxedo.

“My dear boy” he says, “you’ve made it - I’m so glad!”

You take the glass and drink and wonder if he is drunk. You turn and look out across the dance floor. Everyone looks familiar but you don't actually know who any of them are. Over in the corner you can see a couple sitting at a table with a candle. As soon as you look at them, they stand up, wave and beckon you to join them. You try to move toward them but, as you go, people take you by the hand and embrace you. Women kiss you and pull you into the dance, men shake your hand. You are laughing and crying at the same time although you have absolutely no idea why. You no longer feel unhappy but then you don't feel especially happy either. You finally make it to the table. The couple stands to greet you. The woman is holding a baby. She is dressed in simple, elegant evening clothes and her hair is tied back in a neat in a neat bun. It's Amina. She holds the baby out for you to see.

'Isn't he lovely?' She laughs.

You look down at the bundle in her arms. The baby's just like any other baby but a strange feeling comes over you - although whether for the baby, or for Amina, you cannot tell. You look up at Amina and try to speak but the words don't come. She smiles and puts her finger to your lips:

“I know, I know, don't you worry, it's ok!”

You turn to the father, who had seemed like an ordinary Jo with slicked back blonde hair, a slight quiff and smart, slightly military style clothes.

“Hello old sport,” he says “fancy seeing you here!” He winks at you

You are shocked into the sudden realization that it's him. It's the Clerkenwell Kid. It's Valentine. Why couldn't you see before? You embrace rather awkwardly.

“Congratulations” you say, “I, I never expected....”

Valentine looks at Amina and winks again. They grin.

“No, old sport, we didn't either. We didn't either”.

You stand for a few moments in silence, smiling at each other and it’s almost like old times. Suddenly the baby gurgles and they look down. You wait for a few moments and then leave them and begin to squeeze back across the dance floor.

The crooner is tapping his microphone:

“Everybody, please! This one 's for Stephen:……. When somebody loves you, its no good unless they love you all the way…”

The old, old words float out. You are crying and laughing again and you still don't know why. The singer beckons you up onto the stage. He passes you the microphone and you start to sing without hesitation

“Deeper than the deep blue sea, that's how deep it is - if its real......”

He puts his arm around you and you realize that it's Sonny Blake - but then you knew that it would be didn’t you? The song ends and the dancers start to clap and cheer. You bow and Sonny takes back the mike

“Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls. Even though it’s been difficult at times, I’d just like to say: you've been a wonderful audience!”

You climb down from the stage as he is warming up for another number and walk out across the floor and up the stairs out onto the deck. People pat you on the back and raise their glasses to you as you go. At the front of the boat you can see the pilot in his glass cabin. He turns and gives you the thumbs up. It is a beautiful warm night. There are a million stars above you and all around are the city lights spinning up into the sky. The shore seems far away but you can see that it is lined with people waving and pointing. You feel a great love pouring from you towards them, towards the river and towards the city. Fireworks explode somewhere. Are they outside you or inside you? You can’t tell now and it doesn't matter anyway. You stand at the prow and you can see that the boat is cutting through the water at an incredible speed - leaving sparks and little comet trails of gold and silver behind it. Huge soft lights are pulsing in the sky like giant heads above you. You remember your mother, lovely as she looked when you were small, leaning over you and laughing and then, there's your father in check shirt and boots, strong and dark and tall like he used to be. And there's a girl on some mountainside somewhere, smiling back over her shoulder at you and mouthing words you can’t quite hear. And the images come thick and fast now and the boat no longer seems like a boat but more like a ship and the people on the shore seem further away and you can feel that you’re leaving the city behind and you can feel the tide coming in and going out through the river and through the ship and through your body in great thick washes of warm, deep red sensation and you’re traveling at a tremendous speed outwards now and there is no more shore and no more leaving and you’re alone and yet not alone, full of longing but empty of desire and then suddenly, all that there is, is just the great….wide………… deep …………..sea.