Monday 14 May 2018

"A Long Goodbye" by Anthony Le Moignan . Powerful Contemporary Fiction

‘A Long Goodbye’ 

Can you outrun a slow death sentence?

Emma, married with no kids, lives, breathes and manages Orchard Care Home; a position her husband, Michael, used to hold in the good old days. But now he’s soared up the company hierarchy she sees so much less of him.

Simon, a successful accountant, has a big problem. The biggest of them all. He checks himself into Orchard whilst still relatively healthy, the youngest resident by decades. He’s confident he cut all ties with the outside world and is untraceable, but determined ex-partners have their ways...

The attraction between carer and resident is instant, but ultimately destined for catastrophe. Alzheimer’s takes no prisoners and Early Onset, it’s most tragic form, is the cruellest of all.

How can Michael be jealous of this man and his time-bomb? Why does he see Simon as such a threat, driving him to behaviour that will end in disaster?

Simon understands less and less, but knows he has to try and run away from time - to somehow beat the ceaseless clock.

A powerful new novel by Anthony Le Moignan that will make you laugh and cry.


Unsurprisingly, the meal had been a fairly quiet affair. To Emma’s great relief, Simon had not pursued his intimate line of questioning any further - she suspected he might have forgotten what he’d asked Michael. It was the first time in her experience that a reasonable amount of Champagne had not encouraged people to talk more.
Michael had been staggered by Simon on many fronts. What was a guy like him doing in a residential home? Sure, eventually he’d obviously need one, but his social behaviour suggested that was a while down the road yet. And boy, was he right to be furious with Emma for gallivanting off to Manchester – that wouldn’t be happening again anytime soon.
He’d watched Emma carefully throughout the meal to see if there was any exchange of glances with Simon that would suggest they were already up to something. The man was constantly staring at her, but she didn’t seem to be looking his way. Then he thought about Penny and winced – taking the moral high ground was very much more difficult now than a couple of weeks ago. He was also furious with Simon for drinking his pint. There was something despicable about that sort of behaviour. However pathetic it sounded, Michael felt he’d lost a little bit of his mojo during that incident. Men didn’t drink other men’s pints. They just didn’t.
And as if the evening wasn’t weird enough already, Michael had become aware of Julie making eyes at him. At first, he thought he must be mistaken, but twice he’d felt her foot rubbing his shin. If there were any doubts left, they were well and truly extinguished when he went to the gents.
Julie was there as he came out, faking surprise at bumping into him. She pushed up against him, her chin on his shoulder, whispering her gratitude for the flowers. It jogged his memory, and he was starting to apologise when she’d put a finger on his lips and told him to save it for another time, and preferably one night soon.
As he stared at her, utterly lost for words, she told him how nice he smelt and then sauntered off to the ladies. More tragic than anything, he’d found himself watching her bottom as she walked off.
Michael sighed, shook his head and seriously contemplated punching himself in the groin.
Simon was feeling a little tipsy. Drink had often caused him to forget things, and this was one of those occasions. He remembered the waitress, and of course he remembered Emma, but the other young girl and the guy who looked a little bit like him were puzzling. He was enjoying the warmth of the late sun and the ambience of the busy pub, but he couldn’t remember how he’d got here.
Strangely, this didn’t worry him. He’d decided not to say anything and just listen to the others, but they weren’t saying much either. As he studied the faces, it occurred to him that the young girl must be with the other guy. She was looking at him, and unless he was mistaken, there was passion and desire written in her eyes and over her pretty face.
He looked at Emma a few times simply because it was a pleasure and a delight. If the other two were a couple, it would make sense that he and Emma were as well, but he knew this wasn’t the case. She seemed to be staring into the horizon, and he was unable to make eye contact with her.
It gave him an opportunity to study her features – he found her stunningly beautiful. He desperately wanted to kiss her. Surely he’d done that before?
The waitress approached the table. ‘Guys, there’s a taxi for Mr Carter.’
‘Oh, that’s me, excellent. Are we all ready to go?’
‘That’s just for us, Simon.’ Julie stood up and put a hand on his arm.
‘Really? Are you sure? What about Emma?’
‘Michael and Emma are going back a bit later.’
‘Oh, that’s a pity. Would you both like to come with us?’ Emma smiled and was about to accept the offer, but Michael got there before her.
‘No, we’ll stay on until our own taxi arrives, thank you very much. Is that a problem for you, Simon?’
‘Yes, it is, really. I wanted to go back with Emma. Would you like to come back with us, Emma?’
Michael swiftly stood up with his fists pressed on the table. ‘Well of all the ...’
This time, Emma was able to interrupt her husband.
‘That’s very sweet of you, but Michael and I should wait for our taxi. I’ll see you tomorrow back at Orchard, okay Simon?’ She smiled at him, not attempting to hide her reddening face.
‘Bye-bye, Julie, take good care of Simon. Michael, let’s go inside, it’s getting chilly now.’
Michael moved towards her, and she grabbed his arm, dragging him into the pub.
Michael had finally managed to buy and drink a pint of his own by the time Emma came back from the ladies. Some of his mojo had returned, along with a nice little buzz.
‘I don’t fucking believe that guy – I should have punched his lights out. And he orders two bottles of Dom, and I get to pay for that and the whole damn meal, the bloody con merchant. Is he one of these guys we’re going to have trouble getting residential fees from? Have you done financial due diligence on him, Em?’
Emma could no longer contain herself, buoyed by the alcohol and her heartache.
‘You fool. You stupid fool. Is it really that long since you were a carer that you’ve forgotten all the signs of Simon’s illness? Can’t you tell he didn’t have a clue where he was or what he was doing?’
‘Oh really? So what about when he grabs my drink off the tray, knowing it’s mine and drinking it in front of me. Then he asks why I don’t see you more often, the cheeky sod. I should have given him a slap. That Champagne came to two hundred and seventy quid, for fuck’s sake! Perhaps you told him I’m wealthy so I can afford it, eh?’
Emma couldn’t remember ever feeling so angry.
‘You’re so wrong on every level. No, he didn’t know it was your drink. As he walked up to us his expression changed. I know him well enough to realise something snapped in his mind.’
‘I bet you do.’
Emma stood up, and her chair clattered to the floor.
‘How dare you, you bastard. Dream on about giving him a slap or punching his lights out – you’d have been on the floor before you’d raised an arm. And no, you’re not wealthy, Michael – not compared to Simon. He’s a multi-millionaire, you idiot. If you’d looked in his file, you’d see his financial situation and how open he is about it. You’ll get your lousy money back. Couldn’t you see how totally confused he was before he left? Damn you, Michael. Damn you to hell!’
The pub had gone eerily quiet as Emma stormed out of the door, slamming it shut behind her. Michael jumped up out of his seat and ran after her, but two rather large local men stood in front of him by the door and politely asked him to calm down and return to his seat. They suggested he have another drink and leave the lady alone.
As Michael was arguing, one of the men’s companions went outside to find Emma. She was leaning against a table, sobbing. The woman put an arm around her.
‘It’s alright love, it’s okay. Are you far from here? Can we give you a lift?’
Between sniffles, Emma told her they had a taxi arriving soon. As they were talking, the cab pulled into the car park, and the woman helped Emma into it.
Back in the pub again, Michael was still arguing with the men – the woman spoke to one of them, and they all sat back down at their table.
Michael was just in time to see the taxi’s tail lights disappear down the road.
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Author Bio

It was both a shock and a delight when Anthony Le Moignan received The English Prize at end-of-term assembly.  He was 11 and in the 6th form, his final year at Prep.

The celebrations carried on for years – five in fact, at which point he was expelled from senior school (‘asked to leave’ was the official jargon).  However, a lifelong lesson was learnt (even if an avoidance of alliteration wasn’t) – he was clearly unemployable.

So through a series of almost absurd luck which he cannot begin to over-emphasise, he seems to have successfully ploughed himself to this current moment in time.

He won’t excuse his love of Cambridge.  Having travelled around the world playing croquet for a couple of decades, this little city is just about his favourite place on the planet.  He’s not entirely sure why, but he seems to love being surrounded by people far brighter than himself, and buildings older than God (welllll, sort of…).

So, a lot of his novels are going to be set in or around Cambridge and London, all of which he hopes will be glanced at in the fullness of time.  For now, he’d like to mention that all of the characters in his books, every single one of them, human and otherwise, are based on actual persons; fragments maybe, but they all truly exist.  Quite how any author can claim otherwise is a complete mystery to him.

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