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Cupcake Kissin’ 1 – Alex Ankarr
So Caspar is broke, and he can’t find a decent engineering internship to save his life in Winnipeg, still less a paying entry-level position, when he gets the call. It sobers him up a bit, puts his troubles quite effectively into perspective. It’s a great-uncle who detests the phone – old Rupert, the one with the dodgy hip and the short temper, and an ineffective hearing aid. So the old dodderer uses the detested new-fangled device merely to transmit the required information, not for idle chit-chat. And he uses it only when absolutely required so to do, which is how Caspar knows it’s pretty damn serious, even as he checks out the caller ID and takes the call.
And when he closes the call, if he’d had a smile on his face it would have been thoroughly wiped off. ‘Oh, Unka Rupes. I am so sorry. Yes, yes, I know you want to get off the line, I’m sorry, I’ll let you go. Yes, I’ll be in Los Angeles for the reading of the will, I promise. No, nothing else urgent to keep me here. No, I have the airfare. No, it’s okay, I’ve got it, Unka. No. Well, yes, things are a bit tight. Oh God, would you? I will honestly pay you back, Unka. I will, no, I will, I swear… Yes. I’ll see you there, bye, bye…’
And when the line buzzes empty and he puts the phone down, it’s raining outside of his ratty little studio apartment window. It’s appropriate, because he might conceivably be crying just a tiny little bit. His dear old great-aunt, Auntie Gertie, the old flibbertigibbet, the one who was light of morals and high of heels in her youth, the scandal and the despair of their blue-blooded old Surrey family, she’s died suddenly. A nasty lung infection, with her too old and dissipated to fight it off.
Out of all of his family, darling old Gertie, the shameless old girl, was the first to accept and embrace his homosexuality, attend the odd parade linked arm in arm with him and his buddies, insist on going clubbing with them, dancing and drinking far beyond their own tolerances. Now she’s gone.
He sighs and wipes his face, though. There’s a funeral to think of, a will reading, all the tiresome but necessary business of death to get through, for the sake of the rest of the family. And thank God old Rupes has a generous, irritable old heart, and insisted on lending Caspar the money for the fare, he thinks. That’s the trouble with being part of an old money family, where the money is very unevenly distributed. You find yourself perpetually dependent on the generosity of others, hanging in the wind waiting to see if they’ll rescue you. Which, to be fair, they generally do, in his clan. But that airfare would have wiped him out, along with a hotel room and the rest of it. Christ, he’s in dire straits. What he needs is a decent job, something to justify all the expense of his engineering training… (And even with his Canadian uni sweet-deal foreign-national fees, and being sponsored part-way through his studies by a now-defunct company with no handy jobs, they’d been a pretty penny.)
He needs a lucky break. That’s what he needs. A death in the family, that isn’t it. But he knows his duty, and he gets back on the phone and starts making bookings.
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014
No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.
Photo credit: Lyn Whitfield on Flickr, public domain.