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Cold Beer and Hot Politics. Chapter 8.

A Counterculture Story.

By Tanya DoolinPublished about a month ago 2 min read

John was startled awake before dawn by the jangling bedside telephone. Blearily lifting the receiver, he encountered only the cackling voice of his downstairs neighbour, Madame Scheherazade. Between gasping laughs she demanded, "Have you seen today's Mirror, John dearie?" Before he could respond, she rang off, leaving him puzzled by her sudden interest in tabloid sensationalism.

When John ventured out to buy his customary coffee and newspaper, his confusion compounded. He was met by sidelong glances and hushed murmuring from familiar neighbours. And then the explosive headlines emblazoned across the Mirror's front page - "Warped Pensioner's Secret Double Life!" As John read bewildered over his beans on toast, the words blurred together. The paper had dredged up long-buried incidents from his early adulthood, grossly fictionalising tender moments of sexual exploration into sordid homosexual trysts. They painted scenes of a twisted radicalised deviant without context, already being eagerly dissected by salacious readers across Britain.

In the fortnight that followed, John was bombarded by journalists seeking more fuel for their malicious campaign. Even his own estranged son phoned John for the first time in years, spewing blistering vitriol over the Father he "clearly never truly knew" before hanging up.

Utterly exposed before a judgmental public audience, John retreated into his flat, hiding himself behind bolted doors and drawn curtains. He grappled to comprehend who had dredged up such selective versions of youthful experiences he himself still struggled to reconcile. His speeches and pamphlets failed to provoke a response from the apathetic public, posing no serious threat to the status quo that needed to be neutralised. Was someone simply bored or vindictive enough to want to watch him squirm beneath society's magnifying glass? Or had he provoked a personal vendetta without realising?

Then came the letter - a 1968 snapshot of John alongside his first love, looking blissfully happy and idealistic beneath the San Francisco sun. Scrawled on the back was the fond inscription "Two beautiful dreamers set out to change the world!" Mere months later, other young men's bold dreams would be cut short... But for this one luminous moment, glorious freedom and hope yet stretched boundless before John and his handsome partner. Tender ghosts briefly illuminated the darkness that enclosed John now.


About the Creator

Tanya Doolin

If you would like to show your appreciation of what I write then feel free on click on the link to my Ko-Fi.

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