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Down Memory Lane

By Wayne Mansfield

Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

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Copyright 2017 Wayne Mansfield

ISBN 9781634864664

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs |

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

* * * *

To David.

* * * *

Down Memory Lane

By Wayne Mansfield

Chapter 1

Vincent O’Keefe hadn’t stepped foot into a bookshop for years. Despite being an avid reader, it was cheaper to buy e-books, and while he missed the luxuriously comforting smell of a new hardcover, the price and convenience of downloading books meant he had no need to visit a shop. It was only because of the sudden heavy downpour that he entered Holbrook’s Bookshop and Café. The large umbrella he carried would have been next to useless in such horrendously inclement conditions, and besides, the way the weather had been, the rain would soon pass.

He began to wander the aisles and realised he was smiling. It gave him pause for thought that an impromptu visit to a bookshop should produce in him such feelings of happiness and well-being.

“Good morning, sir,” said a fresh-faced girl, carrying an armful of books. “May I help you with something, or are you just sheltering from the rain?”

Vincent couldn’t help being slightly taken aback by the girl’s forthrightness.

She laughed. “It’s okay, sir. You’re welcome to browse. It’s really coming down out there, isn’t it?”

The girl’s friendly manner put Vincent at ease. “It sure is.” He lifted his umbrella to draw attention to it. “And I don’t think this would do me much good.”

“I shouldn’t think so. Anyway, I’ll let you get on with it. Just call out if you need any assistance.”

Vincent watched the girl continue down the aisle, putting a book on one of the shelves.

In one corner of Holbrook’s, he discovered an LGBT section, and near the bottom of the shelves, a selection of photographic books. He picked one at random and began flicking through pages upon pages of naked and semi-naked men, each one square-jawed and impossibly gorgeous, their bodies so ripped he doubted there was enough fat on any of them to fry a chicken wing. It got boring very quickly.

He was about to close the book when he glimpsed a photograph that caught his attention. Initially, he couldn’t understand why that particular picture, out of the myriad bland glamour shots, should leap out at him. As he examined the model, his strong jaw and sexy, self-confident half-smile, he wondered why the man’s face seemed vaguely familiar. He knew he’d never met the man. Not for a moment did he think he had. Nevertheless, he couldn’t shake the sense of connection he felt with the man staring out at him from the glossy page.

A name began to form on the tip of his tongue. D…De…Da…David? Darren? Daryl? Daniel? Daniel! Yes, Daniel. Then he remembered. Daniel McClary. He’d dated Daniel McClary over twenty years ago. The most handsome partner he’d ever had, and was ever likely to. In all honesty, Mr. McClary wouldn’t have looked out of place on any of the pages in this publication.

He closed the book, temporarily lost in a dream of days gone by. Of days spent with the divine Daniel McClary.

He smiled as he recalled mornings when he used to be the first of them to wake up. He’d spend the first few minutes of his day watching Daniel sleeping. He’d lean across and kiss him on the lips, sometimes stirring him enough to draw him from his dreams, and sometimes not. And then, when Daniel finally did wake, they’d kiss.

His smile broadened as he remembered those gentle, tender kisses, so delicate and loving. Daniel would take Vincent in his arms and their naked bodies would press together, their arms lovingly pulling each closer to the other. Sometimes they’d make slow, unhurried love, completely opposite to the wild, unbridled sex they’d had the previous evening.

Then his smile faded when he remembered the way everything had ended. But he didn’t want to dredge all that up again. Why would he? Having gone through it once had been more than enough. Besides, he wanted to remember the happy times he’d spent with Daniel; the bliss they’d experienced the majority of the time.

Vincent glanced towards a nearby window and noticed the rain had eased. He replaced the book on its shelf and exited the bookshop.

When he arrived home, he logged onto the Internet. He opened his Facebook page and typed Daniel McClary into the search box. There were twelve Daniel McClarys, but the one he wanted was in the top position.

He clicked on the name. The page came up, and suddenly Vincent’s eyes were everywhere at once. Photographs showed that Daniel had gone grey and his hairline had receded, but he was still devastatingly attractive. As far as Vincent was concerned, the grey hair made him even more appealing. There were a lot of pictures of him with someone whom Vincent assumed was his partner. And children. Further examination revealed they were his children. The ones he’d had with his partner. And he was living in England.

Vincent felt a twinge of guilt as he examined Daniel’s page, perhaps only slightly less guilty than if he’d been reading the man’s diary.

It was difficult to describe what else he experienced as he looked through Daniel’s photo album. He felt joy that Daniel was happy and a family man, but also a sense of loss. Had circumstances been different, it might have been him in the photos with Daniel. And he also felt desire. The man was still so handsome, so heart-achingly handsome, but he’d never been arrogant. Many men Vincent had met over the years, men who weren’t as drop-dead gorgeous as Daniel, had had tickets on themselves. They’d strutted about as if they owned the place, as if their good looks meant the masses owed them adoration. But not Daniel. He’d always been down-to-earth and quietly confident. He’d been caring and gentle. He’d been friendly, talking to anyone who wanted to talk to him. People of both sexes had flocked to his side, drawn in by his looks and mesmerised by his charisma.

Vincent sighed and returned to Daniel’s main page. He wondered whether to say “hello.” Or perhaps a “poke” might be wiser. But Daniel had disabled the “poke” option. What about a message then? What would he say? Remember me? And the point? Daniel had a husband and children. He lived in another country, halfway around the world. They might “friend” each other and exchange a few messages, a few reminiscences. Or Daniel might want to leave the past in the past.

Vincent logged out of Facebook. He closed his laptop, but remained seated, his hands resting on the top of his computer and his eyes staring into space.

He half-regretted ever looking in that damned photographic book. Images of Daniel swam about in his mind’s eye. Memories came flooding back. And with them, a tsunami of feelings and emotions.

* * * *

Two days later, Vincent hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Daniel. Their affair had been brief, perhaps six months. Maybe not even as long as that. Yet the mark Daniel had left on him had obviously been indelible. It must have been if he was so obsessed with the man twenty-one years later.

He returned to Holbrook’s Bookshop and Café on his way home from work, entering the building with a certain amount of trepidation.

“Oh, hello again,” said the girl he’d spoken to two days earlier.

“Er, hello…” He squinted at her name badge.

“Kylie,” she said, smiling at him.

“Hello, Kylie.”

“Can I help you today?” She looked over his shoulder at the world outside. “It isn’t raining today.”

Her forthrightness made him smile. “No, it isn’t. You’ll be pleased to hear I’ve come in to make an actual purchase.”

Kylie put her hands on her hips, a comical expression on her face. “Get out of here.”

“No, it’s true. I’m gonna do it.”

Kylie stood aside and made a sweeping motion with her arms. “Then go right ahead, sir.”

Vincent gave her a wink and walked to the back corner where he’d originally discovered the photographic book. At first he couldn’t see it, and his stomach lurched at the possibility someone else had bought it. It didn’t take long to notice it had been put on a nearby shelf by mistake, on top of a small pile of travel books.

Opening the volume, he flipped through, taking care not to leave greasy fingerprints on the pages. When he found the photo he’d been looking for, he stood looking at it, seeing Daniel McClary, not the actual model.

“He’s cute, isn’t he?”

Vincent slammed the book shut and turned. “Oh, yes.”

“There’s a guy who looks exactly like that who’s been coming in here a lot recently.”


“Yeah. Every week, usually on Thursday, because we’re open a bit later on Thursdays. But sometimes on a Friday.”

Today was Friday. “Did he come in yesterday?”

Kylie shrugged. “I wasn’t rostered on yesterday. I can ask, if you like.”

Vincent shook his head. “No, no. That’s alright. I was just…curious.”

“Can I take that? I’ll put it through for you.”

Vincent gave Kylie the book and followed her to the checkout. After paying her, she put his purchase in a bag and handed it to him.

“I guess I’ll be seeing you again,” said Kylie, nodding at the book.

Vincent chuckled. “You’re not a shy thing, are you?”

Kylie laughed. “I like to add a personal touch to my customer service.”

“I can’t argue with you there.”

“Well, have a lovely evening.”

Vincent hesitated, looking over his shoulder in the direction of the cafe. “I think I might have a coffee.”

Kylie winked at him and nodded. “Okay. You shouldn’t have long to wait.”

Vincent opened his mouth to protest her assumption, but he didn’t have an opportunity to speak before she continued.

“For the coffee, I meant. They’re really very efficient over there.”

Vincent pressed his lips together, not entirely convinced she was telling the truth, but not caring one way or the other. He liked Kylie. She made him smile.

At the café, he ordered a flat white and took a seat at a table where he could see the bookshop door. His mobile phone indicated five forty-five. The bookshop closed at six-thirty. Forty-five minutes wasn’t a long time to wait. Not for Daniel McClary.

But the minutes dragged by. He ordered a second coffee, even though he didn’t want it. It sat in front of him getting cold as he watched the door open again and again with no sign of Daniel. All too soon, the café staff began cleaning the tables and refilling the sugar canisters. Patrons started leaving. When he looked at the time on his mobile phone, it read six-twenty.

It seemed unlikely that Daniel would show with only ten minutes before closing.

Vincent picked up the book bag and slowly moved towards the exit. He waved good-bye to Kylie and stepped onto the shadowy street. For a while, he stood by the bookshop window, hoping against hope that Daniel might come dashing towards him, desperate to buy a book.

At six-thirty, he knew he’d have to go home disappointed.

* * * *

Chapter 2

The following Thursday, Vincent couldn’t get out of the office fast enough. Umbrella in hand, he hurried from the building to join the myriad other workers leaving for the day.

The sky threatened rain. Great banks of purple-grey cloud hung low and menacingly. A chill wind blew down the street, prompting people to pull their coats higher around their necks. Headlights reflected on the wet bitumen roads and a small stream had formed in the gutter by the footpath.

He turned down a side street where there weren’t so many people, walking as fast as he could in the direction of Holbrook’s. Already his heart was pounding, though whether it was from the exertion of speed-walking, or from the anticipation that today might be the day he reacquainted himself with Daniel, he couldn’t say.

What if it isn’t Daniel?

Kylie had said “a guy that looks like that” in reference to the model. He supposed there could be many men who looked similar, but in the twenty years since they’d parted, aside from the model, he’d never seen anyone who looked similar to Daniel McClary. It had to be him.

He arrived at the bookshop and pushed his way through the door just as the heavens opened up, unleashing a sudden downpour that sent people scurrying for shelter. He gave the interior of the shop a cursory glance. He couldn’t see Kylie, nor anyone who resembled Daniel, and decided his best plan of attack would be to go up and down the aisles to check that Daniel wasn’t already there.

He started in the aisle furthest from the door, then walked the length of the five remaining ones. There were a couple of middle-aged women perusing the “General Fiction” section, a young man looking at cookery books, and pair of teens reading graphic novels, but no Daniel. He checked the main area of the shop, then ordered a flat white at the café and took the table he’d had the previous week so he could watch the door.

He’d barely sat down when a man in a long, thick woollen coat walked in.

Vincent’s heartbeat quickened. Is it him? He was tall and as well-built as Daniel had been in his youth. His salt-and-pepper hair was receding. When he smiled at one of the staff members, an image of one of the photos on Daniel’s Facebook page came to mind. It was him. Vincent was sure of it.

He took a couple of sips of coffee, grabbed his umbrella, and got up from the table. He walked towards the shelves, his eyes on the man, who disappeared into aisle two.

Vincent hurried down aisle three, to the end, then casually turned into aisle two. With a glance, he checked that the man was still there, then began to study the various volumes on the shelf in front of him. Great Battles of Britain. World War 2. Wartime Disasters. Not a subject that appealed to Vincent, but that was neither here nor there.

He crept towards his target, every now and then surreptitiously checking his position so he could plan his attack. They were now only a metre apart. He turned just as the man also turned. Up close, there could be no mistaking his identity.

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