The Great Pretender

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
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Oh yes I'm the Great Pretender but time to stop pretending

Submitted: January 28, 2017

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Submitted: January 28, 2017

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I noticed him as soon as he walked in.  The similarity was so close, save for the moustache which was absent.  I avoided staring, it obviously was not him, he had been dead for ages.

Continuing eating this was naughty, it was my third visit to this branch of the international fast food chain in a week.  Usually I would eat a burger and fried at most once a week, as much as I enjoy it I could not live entirely on a fast food diet. It was strange to be there for a third time in one week but circumstances within my daily routine took me there.  If my intended schedule had run to plan none of this would have happened.

Or would it ?

"Would you mind if I sat with you ?"  As he approached I could not help but tell my brain no matter how close the resemblance it could not be him but then as he spoke, inviting himself to sit with me the voice, that was not similar, it was the same.

"Please," I indicated with my hand for him to sit down.

"You are Nigel Jones aren't you ?" He said unpacking his meal from its paper cartons then giving all a liberal sprinkling of salt. "Nigel Jones the writer ?"

"I am."

"Well fuck me, I thought it was you.  I  am dining with a fucking world famous writer !"

When he was alive he had been known for his excessive use of the F Word. Who ever this look-alike was his voice and what he said with that voice were exactly in character.

"Has anyone ever told you," I began, "that you look like....."

He cut me short preventing the full question. "Only my mother," he smiled.  "That's a line from one of your stories isn't it ?"

"Yes,"  I confirmed, "it's from Dickie Williams."

"Fucking amazing story that.  I bet William Shakespeare is bricking it in his grave in case it becomes a bigger love story than Romeo and Juliet."

Who was this person ? The looks, his voice and effervescent swearing made it clear who he was but, of course, it was not him.

"I want to be a writer," he continued. "Could you help me get started ?"

"I could but really all you have to do,"  I paused, "is to do it."

"I have read everything you have written, you are an on-line fucking superstar."

"You flatter me."

"I want to be a superstar."  It had been at least forty seconds since he had last sworn so out came the word again.  "A fucking superstar."  Then he changed the sentence slightly, "I am going to be a fucking superstar."

How was I supposed to answer that ?

"So will you help me ?"

"If you want me to of course I will."

"Excellent, thank you.  I'd better fuck off and start writing."  He stood up. "I'll come back when I have something for you to read."

And with that the greatest rock star who ever lived was gone leaving me to clear his meal cartons and return his tray. He would cone back when he had something to show me ?  I would never see him again. 

At home I had three of his CD's.  I put one on, turned up the volume, closed my eyes and reflected on our brief time together.

In two of my stories I had used quantum physics as a way to bring time travel into the writing. I do not pretend in any way at all to understand but I know quantum mechanics will allow an object to be in more than one place at any given time.  There is not one single universe but a multiverse with an infinite space and time dimensions allowing almost anything and everything to happen. It is possible for something to be both alive and dead at the same time. But the way I had used the theory in my stories was fiction.  It was not a way to share a burger and friend with a dead rock star in a fast food restaurant.

The phone chirped signifying a message. "Thanks Nigel, talking with you was really good. Thank you for your time,"

I started to reply before asking myself how on earth did he get hold of my number ?  Something very strange was going on.  It was to become stranger.

I did not send him a text.  Using the number he had messaged me from I called him. I said Hello then addressed him by his name.

"Hello Nigel."

"How come you know my number ?"

"Sorry did my text offend you ?"

"No, of course not.  I just wondered how come you know it and how, if it is you, you are able to speak with me when you are dead ?"

There was silence for a few moments then ignoring my first question he answered the second.

"Nigel in my previous career I said I wanted to be a legend.  You can not become a legend until you are dead.  I have decided on my pen name by the way."

"What is it ?"

"Rudolph Cadwallader."

"That sounds ridiculous."

"Well fuck you," was his reply, a rely given with a smile in the tone of his voice. "Rudolph after Rudolph Nureyev."

"Not the red nosed reindeer then."

"Nigel take me seriously will you.  One day in another life, in another version of the multiverse, I will become a ballet dancer the equal of Rudi Nureyev."

"So where does Cadwallader come from ?  That isn't a name."

"Oh yes it is.  I used to have a roadie whose name was Alex Cadwallader, we always called him Cad.  I quite fancied him if truth be known but before you ask - NO I didn't."

"Didn't what ?"

"Fuck him."

"Oh, I see."

That four letter word I seldom use but in the short time I had known Rudi he had used it more times that I would expect of myself in an entire  year.

"Time to go, I want to start writing.  I'll call you when I have something for you to read. Goodnight Nigel."

"Good night Rudi."

Why did I have to go to that particular fast food restaurant at the precise time I did ? If I had not then none of this would be happening.  My life, I knew, was going to be turned upside down. But within an infinite number of universes I had to be there, Destiny would have made it impossible for the encounter not to have happened.

I took myself off to bed and was soon a asleep and dreaming. My dream was a kaleidoscope, one beautiful pattern of events gently changing to another.  I have never taken drugs in my life but I think they would present life in this beautiful way.  My new friend was in each pattern.  Friend ?  Dare I call him my friend ? The world's greatest rock star, yes he was my friend. No I don't have any friends, not in my life as I live it.  No room for friends.

Rudi Cadwallader, the kaleidoscope turned a new pattern. Rudi, I could never think of him as Rudolph, was a nice name. My dream moved gently through my mind.  I knew next to nothing about Rudi Nureyev, yes I did know he was a ballet dancer but I had no interest in ballet.  My friend obviously did.

Cadwallader, that was an awkward sounding name. Was it Welsh as my friend had said ?  It certainly was not a word, a name, that would be easily forgotten once it had been heard. Could the same be said about my friend's musical stage name ? Yes, but not to the same extent as his real name.  All of his fans knew his real name.

The kaleidoscope turned again and told me the phone was about to ring, told me with at least ten minutes warning. In those moments I decided I had to completely forget I was dealing with a world famous rock star, that was not part of this multiverse, instead this was an aspiring writer by the name of Rudi Cadwallader.

One more turn of the dream and the kaleidoscope allowed the phone to ring.

"Rudi," I said, "do you know what tine it is."

"Fuck that ! Listen Nigel I've someone I want you to meet and I've written the first chapter of my book.  Can we come over ?"

He may have phrased what he said as a question but it was actually a statement of intent to which no answer was needed.

I started to explain where I lived but Rudi cut me short. "No need for directions," Rudi said, "we are parked outside."

How did he know where I lived ?

"This is Daphne - my secretary," Rudi said introducing the young woman he had brought with him, "but she likes to be called Daffy.  Don't ask my why. Fucking silly name if you ask me, sounds like a duck."  That from a man who wanted to be called Rudolph Cadwallader.

Daphne smiled a sympathetic smile as if to apologise for her employer.

"Right I'll be off, I'll leave you two to it.  Daphne has the manuscript."

"You are going ?" I said.

"Nigel dear it's three o'clock in the morning, time I was in bed."

Again Daphne gave me a sympathetic and apologising smile.  Rudi was then gone as quickly as he was there, leaving we two strangers to get to know each other.

"Some people think," Daphne began, "the world revolves round them.  I don't know if he thinks that or not but when he was a rock star it certainly did. Now as a writer it will soon be like that again."

"You knew him before ?"  I said.

"Oh yes, I was his secretary then."

"Oh."

"We had a good time then. Sorry..." She paused. "I didn't mean it like that."

"Like what ?"

"I didn't sleep with him," she hastily explained.  "Lots of people did but I didn't."  Drawing breath Daphne raced into an explanation. "He was bi-sexual, he had a boyfriend AND a girlfriend.  He loved them both.  He had sex, of course, he had sex all over the place. Everyone knows that, it's no secret but there was never any love in sex.  He had friends, the band members, me - we were his friends. We were close and there was a friendship but never any sex. That could never have worked. "  She raced through her explanation almost tripping over her words to get them out.

How could I answer that.  I didn't.

"How that man survives on two, three or at the most four hours sleep a night I'll never know.  It was just the same before. If he got an idea into his head he'd call me no matter what the time. He'll become every bit as famous in this dimension as a writer as he did before as a singer.  Look."

She handed me the manuscript. I flicked the pages. There were about 20 of them typed with double spacing between the lines' I picked out a few sentences from which I instantly knew I was reading something special.  I returned to page one and started to read properly.

"Wow !"

"Is it good ?"  Daphne asked. "Do you think it is ?"

Those few pages contained only the first part of the story's introduction, neither a plot had been set down nor any character properly introduced was there but I was holding a work of genius.

"Put it this way," I said.  "I have readers for my stories in fifty-seven countries of the world and I am very proud of that but I could never, never write as good as this.

"Oh."

"My stories appear on-line, they are free to read but people can make a donation if they enjoy the tale. Some do, most don't but I earn a minimum of ten thousand pounds a month.  When Rudi starts to put his work on the Internet, if he does the same as I do, he'll make ten times what I do."

"So do we not need to do any editing to the manuscript then ?"

"No, it's perfect."

"Then I can go home and back to my bed.  I'm not a night person, I'm not a morning person, I am middle of the day person.  If I don't get some sleep I'll be completely useless. I'd better call a taxi."

"Where do you live."

Daphne shrugged her shoulders then explained where her home was.

"God,"  I exclaimed, "that's miles away. Even if you can find a taxi at this  time of the night it'll take you ages to get home. Stay here, I've a spare room."

"Oh I don't want to put you to any trouble."

"No trouble at all.  I'm not letting you go all that way before you can sleep."

"Thank you."

Back in my own bed I found myself thinking more about Daphne than Rudi. Rudi was an idol, almost unreal in his mysticism. Daphne was every bit as real as I was, as real as either of us could be in a new multiverse dimension. Although my mind was jumping all over the place I was soon asleep again, this time the kaleidoscope had a new colour in Daphne which with every turn brought him into greater prominence in my dream.

I have been married twice.  I have been divorced twice. My first marriage lasted a year, the second six months.  I am my own person.  There will not be a third marriage, failed or successful.  I do not view people as men or women, just people. I ignore any aspects of character or sex which would may be appealing to me.  I avoid friendships and am content with acquaintances.  I am aware that in the notes I have so far typed I have explained Rudi as a friend, he of course is not, I will have to go back and edit that.

I heard Daphne's door open. I was awake. I got up to find out if she was alright. The landing light was on and there she was.

"Oh I am sorry,"  I said.

"No I am sorry," she explained.  "I was just going to the bathroom."

I was a little embarrassed. I always sleep in my underpants so my modesty was covered but what did she think of me ?

"Do you think we should go through his manuscript ?  He will expect us to even if there is nothing to change.  I'm wake now and doubt I will go back to sleep."

"If you are sure.  I'll make us some coffee.  Would you like to borrow a dressing gown ?"

"I'm fine but if you have a spare one to hand," she smiled.

Returning upstairs, clothed myself in that I had taken off earlier, with a tray holding a cafeteria, bowl of sugar, jug of milk and two mugs I found Daphne had returned to her room.  The door was ajar, balancing the tray I gently tapped on the door before entering.  Daphne was propped up against pillows on the bed. .

"I should have asked how you like your coffee,"  I said placing the tray on a table.

"Black with no sugar,"  Daphne explained.

"Same as me."

"Great minds think alike."

I pulled a chair against the bed and tried not to look too much at her body and imagine what lay beneath the dressing gown.  I gave my mind a kick and forced it to return to the usual way I regard others.

"How about I read the manuscript and you stop me if you have any comments as we go along ?"

Daphne's face changed as I read the story.  Sometimes she would frown and at others smile but never did she invite me to pause.  Only when I had finished speaking did she make any comment.

"The songs he wrote,"  Daphne began, "are true masterpieces but listen to them as many times as you will it is impossible to understand everything.  I rather think it will be the same with his story writing."

"Did he ever ask you to look at a song while the composition was in progress ? Like he has done with this story ?"

"No.  The band members would have had an input but only with the music.  Rudi always had complete control over the words."

"I see."

"He once told me that he was The Great Pretender but I don't know what he meant by that.  This is going to be a love story isn't it ?"  Daphne said. "From what he has so far written I mean."

"I think that is the direction the introduction is pointing."

"None of his songs were love stories,"  Daphne observed. "There's love in them but it's not the sentimental love of most songs."

I began to think of the songs I had in my CD collection. I ran through them in my mind.  What she was saying was right."

There was a pause then Daphne said, "I've never been in love so I am not really certain what love is."

"I have,"  I said in reply, "and every time it has caused me pain.  Terrible pain."

Just for one brief moment our eyes met before we both turned them away. As tiny a moment yet within it it was as if thoughts passed between us.

"Rudi had a boyfriend and a girlfriend,"  Daphne aid.  "He always said love was no respecter of gender.  I do not know if he was right or not about that.  I could love a man or a woman as a sister but any physical expression of love would have to be with a man."

There was a need for me to answer that, to give an opinion but before I could speak the phone rang.

"Good morning Nigel," Rudi said. "Are you looking after Daphne ?  Daffy," Rudi clarified. "Don't know why she insists on that fucking duck name - Daphne sounds much better. You are taking care of her for me ?"

That was a strange thing to say.

"I've got the next couple of thousand words written. Get the breakfast going and I'll bring it round."

"Which do you prefer,"  Daphne asked, "shower or bath ?"

"Bath,"  I said.

"You take a bath, I'll use the shower.  If I know Rudi he will be here very soon so best hurry."

"What's for breakfast then ?" Rudi asked with a smile.

"What would you like ?"

"Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and rich gravy," he giggled then added, "I could murder a bacon sandwich."

"So bacon sarnies all round then."

"I've written more." Rudi handed me a bundle of papers.

"We can take a look once we have finished breakfast.  We really enjoyed the first part, you set the scene in a unique and clever way.  Daphne and I can't wait to see how you build the characters on that.

"Thank you but I am afraid you will have to read this next bit on your own.  I am going to have to take Daffy away from you, I need her help with something."

"Oh. OK."

"Don't look like that.  I'll bring her back this evening then you can read it to her."

What he was saying definitely ended there but I could have sworn I heard the words in bed together tonight.

No !  NO !  No !

I gave myself a metaphorical shake to rid the thought from my mind then gave the side of my face a slap for thinking it in the first place.

"Time for another coffee then Daffy and I will have to take our leave of you."

I have lived alone for many years - ever since my second divorce, I like the solitary life which works well for my work as a writer.  I have had house guests, of course I have, but am always glad  when they are gone and I am alone again.  With Daphne no longer there the house was empty.  I tried to work but my mind lost all of its creativity. I took a CD of Rudi's music, inserted it into the audio system and clicked MIX. The system selected The Great Pretender as the first track to play. As it neared the end I pressed another button so the song would repeat.  Unlike many of his songs the words were easy to follow, perhaps it was because it was a cover of the 1955 hit recorded by The Platter and not from the genius of my friend.  (Stop using that word ! Friend.) Why was this piece of music making its way into my life ?

I was not glad when I closed the door behind Rudi and Daphne Far from it. The house felt cold and void of everything now that they were gone.  I mean Daphne not Rudi. Daffy - I really do not like that name.  Rudi always calls her Daphne, I think I am going to start calling her Daff. You know like a daffodil, a beautiful spring flower.

I tidied up the kitchen, sprayed an aerosol to mask the smell of bacon then made another cup of coffee. Rudi's manuscript was calling to me, demanding I pick it up and read it.  Three paragraphs into the narrative and the hairs on the back of my neck began to prick.  Another two pages and my spine was tingling as micro electric shocks ran up and down the vertebrae.

"This is all about me,"  I said aloud.

Rudi was not using my name - Nigel - but instead calling me John.   Daphne was there in the story with me but she wasn't Daphne nor even Daffy but Daffodil.  I had only just decided I would call her Daffodil so how ever did Rudi know ?

Everything outside the words on those printed sheets of paper was gone. Everything in the universe, this universe, was right then centred entirely on Rudi's story.  The writer's style was brilliant, genius even, gripping me to read on. My heart beat faster and faster with every page I turned.

I was reading fiction, the product of Rudi's imagination but fiction the writer was projecting towards fact. The kaleidoscope I had turning the colours of my dream was now doing the same for my waking. When I had finished reading Rudi's story that kaleidoscope was hurling one psychedelic cascade after another.  My thought were racing in several directions at once as Rudi's words knotted my stomach in anticipation. Why was he doing this ?

I have never needed love - perhaps that is why my two marriages failed, neither to give it nor receive it yet I always found it so easy to write love stories, by far it is my favourite genre within which to work. Does that make me a fraud ?  Did it make my writing false - a fake ?  If it was then how is it when I publish a love story it instantly becomes a best seller and earns me far more money than anything else, even fetish content ? Was I pretending ?  Was I a pretender ?  Was I Rudi's great pretender ?.

What a strange day.  My emotions were turned upside down.  No longer did I want to live a solitary life.  The house was empty and I was lonely.  That was something new to me.  I longed for Rudi to come back and return Daffodil to me.

Did she love me ?

I hoped so.

Did I love her ?

I certainly wanted to.

The day crawled by.  I tried to work but writing was stopped by an impenetrable mental block.  I tried to listen to music but the only sound in my ears was Rudi singing and telling me I was The Great Pretender.

I read Rudi's manuscript over and over but it was the next chapter I wanted - I needed. I wanted not only to read what Rudi would write but I needed to live through it.  What if Rudi did not return ?  What if he did not bring Daffodil with him ?  What if this was only a dream.  The kaleidoscope was turning, twisting my thoughts. What if there was no multiverse ?  What if there was no such thing as Destiny ?  The thought was unbearable.

The day continued to crawl by so slowly as my emotions were constantly confused as the kaleidoscope turned.It was not until gone seven in the evening when Rudi called, "I'll be with you in fifteen minutes,"  he said.

I'll - Not we'll - we will.

"Is Daphne with you ?"  I asked

There was a pause before he answered in which I could hear him smiling through the silence.  "Do you want her to be with me ?"

"Of course.  She has got to read the next part of your story."

"No, you have got to read it to her and I have told you where I want you to read it. Remember ?"

I remembered ?

"That was a complete waste of a day, "Daphne said when we were alone. " That man drives me crazy. He dragged me round six different branches of PC World looking at laptops.  One branch is exactly the same as another - same stock - same offers - clones !  At the end of the day he didn't buy anything anyway !"

"Oh."

"When he was a rock star he did not go out shopping, he would be mobbed so always sent me.  Now as an author nobody knows who he is so he loves it.  You are world famous and yet nobody knows who you are, that's what Rudi wants."

"Is that better for you ?"

"No way !  Before I would always drive but now he drives.  You know how he always leaped about on stage and in his videos, behind the steering wheel he tries to make the car perform like that.  He scares me witless. And if you think he swore as a singer, that is nothing to the way he curses other drivers."

I giggled at Rudi's stage antics translated into his driving a car.

"It is not funny."

"Sorry. Have you read the story ?"  I asked softly.

I could see her face start to redden. "Yes," was all she said.

"He told me I was to read it to you."

"I know."

"And he told me where I was to read it."

"I know."

"What is Rudi up to ?"

"He is a kind man."

"Is he ?"

"Oh yes."

"So what is he up to ?  I asked again.

"Trying to set us up."

"Why ?"

"Kindness."

"Kindness ?  I am embarrassed."

"So am I."

"He has left you here again."

"Yes."

"Presumably overnight."

"Yes."

"And he expects us to be together."

"Would that be such a terrible thing ?  Would you prefer me to leave ?"

Before I could answer she began to cry.  She did not make any sound, there were no heaving sobs but huge tears flowed down both of her cheeks, Frantically she tried to wipe them away but could not stem their flow.

"I am sorry, I am making a fool of myself."

"No you are not."

"It is just that I have never loved anyone in my life and now Rudi is doing this to both of us."

"You know Rudi's song The Great Pretender ?"

"Of course, I helped him script the video for it."

"It is me who is The Great Pretender," I tried to explain."  "Not only are the love stories I have written fiction but I have no experiences in my life to take and use in writing them."

"Surely not."

I smiled gently. shook my head and said, "Oh yes I'm the great pretender."

"Oh my god !" Daphne exclaimed.  "Oh my god !  It can't be ! It is ?  Yes !  No this is impossible !"

She stood up and turned to face me. "What is he up to ?"

I moved to stand behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder. She turned to face me again. As our eyes me more tears than ever began to spill down her face.

"What is the matter ?"

"Would you hold me please ?"

Embracing Daffodil I tightly pulled her to me

"This strange.  I feel so strange."

"Sit down."

"Would you mind if we were to do what Rudi said we should."

"Mind ?  I think I would quite like it." I smiled.

We both felt relaxed and calm. each could feel the other's body heat.  It was beautiful.

"The Great Pretender,"  Doofodil said.

"That's me."

"No you don't understand."

"Tell me."

"When Rudi decided to record The Great Pretender I asked him why he was going to do it.  Everything he sang was original but this was a cover, it was out of character."

"It's a good song.  His version is better than the original."

"Be patient," he told me. "The Great Pretender is for someone who we shall meet in the future."

"Surely he could not have been talking about me."

She took my hand and squeezed it.  "I rather think he was."

Rudi did not return the next morning and when we called his mobile it went straight to voicemail.  We tried all day but it was as if Rudi Cadwallader  had vanished.

"This is awkward,"  Daphne explained. "I live in an apartment within Rudi's Kensington mansion.  I can't really go back without speaking to him."

That sounded silly to me but I did not ask her to explain.  I wanted her to stay with me.

"I do not want to be a great pretender. Stay here."

"Can I ?  I would like that.  Perhaps I should tell Rudi."

"If you like."  But I had a feeling Rudi already knew.

Again when we called Rudi there was no reply.

We heard nothing from him at all the next day. The day after when Daphne called it was to an unobtainable number.

"Perhaps we should go round to the house and see if he is alright,"  She suggested.

The house appeared to be empty. No matter how many times we rang the bell nobody came to the door.

"That's strange, Even if Rudi is not at home there is the staff."

"Staff ?"

"Housekeeper, cook, gardener, cleaner, they all live here so someone should be home."

"Don't you have a key ?"

"Never needed one."

"Well," I said, "Destiny is suggesting you don't need one here. "Perhaps we should get you one to use in your new home."

"My new home ?"

"Don't be so naive,  you are coming to live with me aren't you ? Please. That looks to be Destiny's plan."

What is the opposite of Pretender ?  Realist.  That does not describe the change Daphne, or Daffodil as I call her when using her pet name, has made to my life.  I became a completely different and better person.  Daphne also changed from the person I first met.

The days went by, the weeks went by and eventually the months went by.  I continued writing but my style changed. I would like to think that since Daphne came into my life the quality of my writing developed to new heights.

Daphne started to call herself my secretary, secretary and promotions guy but really she was my inspiration.  If she were not there I could not write even one sentence. Of course she was there, always there by my side.

We knew everything about each other, we were two halves of the same character.  Since the time Rudi vanished Daphne and I had never been apart.  It is strange that we did not share before something which Destiny had implanted in our lives.  Anyone reading this text will find this hard to comprehend but it is true.

Winter came early that first year. It was as if Autumn was passed by completely as the year leapfrogged from Summer to Winter.  "I think I would like it if we were to go abroad, somewhere warm, for my birthday,"

"Where would you like to go ?"  Daphne asked.

"Barbados." I said without hesitation then added, "Does that sound good to you ?"

"Certainly does."

"I want to write a love story set on a sugar plantation. We could do some research there."

"So when is your birthday ?"  Daphne asked.  "Our lives have become so close but I do not know when your birthday is.  Oh I am so sorry about that."

"Don't be sorry, I don't know when your birthday is."

"I shall be twenty-nine on the fourth of November."

Not for the first time in my life since joining it with Daphne's life a shiver ran up and down my spine.

"The fourth of November ?"

"Yes."

"That is my birthday but I will not be twenty-nine I am afraid."

"Your birthday will be on the same day as mine ?"

"Yes but I will be thirty-five."

"That's how old Rudi is,"  Daphne said, "but his birthday is in September."

Rudi, I was starting to forget he ever existed. He had brought Daphne and I together, I would always be grateful to him for that but I doubted we would ever see him again.  Nobody has ever heard of Rudi Cadwallader and I suspect they ever will.  Did Rudi Cadwallader still exist ?

We made our visit to Barbados and planned it to coincide with our birthdays.  We chose a beautiful hotel on the Atlantic side of the island away from the tourists.  When we arrived and checked in we found a welcome gift waiting in our room.  Someone had placed a huge basket of fruit in the room.  We presumed it was the hotel management but no, asking at reception we were told A gentleman left it earlier.

"There's a card here,"  Daphne said when we returned to the room.  "I am sure it was not here before."

"What does it say ?"

"Have a happy birthday and have a lovely holiday. Love and best wishes from an Angel of Destiny. PS - you do not need to pretend any more"

"Rudi," I said.

"Rudi," Daphne agreed.

The next year we did not go on holiday for our birthdays but instead chose to celebrate being together for a year. When we entered our hotel room a gift and a card were there waiting for us.

It has been like that every year since. We have never seen Rudi, have never heard from him directly and have no idea where the Angel of Destiny is but every year the gift and the card are there.

As our fortieth anniversary approached I took time to reflect on my happy, happy life.  Just how much I had to thank Destiny for.  I was coming up to seventy-five years of age and my darling Daphne sixty-nine.  We were old but deliriously happy.  We decided for our ruby anniversary our holiday would be in California.  We had been there before, several times and liked a Chinese restaurant in the old part of Sacramento, the State Capital.

When we checked into the hotel there was something wrong, perhaps not wrong but different.  The gift and the card were there but the writing on the card had been changed. "Have a happy anniversary and a lovely holiday. Love and best wishes from an Angel of Destiny. PS - see you later"

At the restaurant we were warmly welcomed. "Your guest has already arrived, he is waiting at the bar."

We had booked a table for two but as I looked at the maitre d's list I could clearly see the number three written by the side of my name.

Rudi had not changed at all, he was the same age as when we had last seen him. "Hello you two,"  he smiled. "I need your help with something. Do you mind if I sit with you ?"

 


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