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Old April 7th, 2007, 03:48 PM
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An American Muscleman in London - Part 3

First Full Moon – Continued

I couldn’t take everything in fast enough as we drove into London from Heathrow. It would take too long to even list all the things I was seeing live and in person that I had only dreamed of from pictures, movies, or television shows. My head was already in London overload. As we got closer to the main part of town Matt asked if I wanted him to point out anything special. I suddenly remembered the pub Luke had written down for me.

“Yes, Matt,” I said digging out the note. “Do you know the pub ‘Halfway to Heaven’ and can you drive by it.”

“Sure, I know where it is. We go right past it on the way to your flat. Your place is just a two minute walk to that pub.”

How lucky, I thought. “Thanks. That will be great.”

“Sure, mate,” Matt answered smiling at me in the rearview mirror. He pointed out Trafalgar Square as we circled it, made sure I saw the front windows of ‘Halfway to Heaven,’ and then pulled up in front of my building. He handed me my keys and said, “You go ahead and open doors. I’ll grab the bags.”

“Matt, let me help you. There’s four big bags and they’re very heavy.”

“Don’t worry about me Anthony,” Matt called out as he got out of the car, “I’ve got it under control. The big key unlocks the front door and the middle key unlocks the door to your flat. It’s on the fist floor – which means the second floor to someone from the states.”

I got out of the car, walked to the front door, unlocked it and looked for something to prop it open so I could help Matt. I quickly noticed that the front lobby was quite nice. I smiled when I saw the plaque with the name of the place – Camelot Towers. I loved the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. My parents raised me on those stories. I loved the whole idea of chivalry and all that. I couldn’t see anything to hold the door open so I turned back to see if Matt was okay. To my surprise he was right behind me smiling. He had two of my bags under his big arms and carried the other two by their handles. There was no sign of strain on his face. I stepped back and let him enter the lobby. I then moved quickly to the elevator and pressed the button.

“Don’t worry about me Anthony – I’m going to take the stairs,” Matt called as he started up the big staircase to the left of the elevator. I didn’t want to be outdone by the guy carrying everything so I followed him up the flight of stairs. On the first floor there was a hallway leading to only one door. This confused me. Matt step beyond the door and then turned back towards me. It was a little hard since he had all the luggage.

“Is there only one flat on this floor?” I asked.”

“That’s right, mate,” he answered.

At that moment I opened the door and stepped into a huge living space with floor to ceiling windows along the wall overlooking the street. There was a dining area and a kitchen to the right. I noticed a great fireplace along one wall in the living room. Matt disappeared down a short hall to the left. I followed him to what led to two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The master bedroom was very big and had its own bathroom. The second bedroom had a small bed and a study-like area with a desk. This place was great. Matt showed me where everything was and specifically reviewed a notebook that had directions on how to work everything in the flat.

Once Matt left I began to unpack. It’s the first thing I like to do when I take a trip. It gives some sort of order to everything. Once that was done I knew I had to go out. If I stayed in I would fall asleep and that would ruin my inner clock for a few days. I wasn’t that tired, anyway. As I saw it I had two options. I could go grocery shopping or I could go to the pub. I, of course, chose ‘Halfway to Heaven” – like any good Londoner, right? I walked down St. Martin’s Lane and passed the National Portrait Gallery and St. Martin in the Fields to get to the pub, which stood on a small street just off the square. As I passed the church I was a little disappointed because they were doing some construction and it was covered in scaffolding.

If you didn’t know the pub was there you might miss it. And if you didn’t know it was a gay pub there was little to tell you that, too. I bet many straight tourists came in for a drink and ended up being surprised. There was a rainbow flag hanging outside but I knew a lot of people just thought it was a nice decoration.

I walked in and the music playing definitely gave away the fact that this was a gay pub. I didn’t know the song but it had that driving beat that still ruled in gay dance clubs. The pub was really small – or so I thought until I realized it had a downstairs. The main room was upstairs, though. A few tall round tables and stools in the center, a counter that ran along three walls, and a small bar that stuck halfway out into the room in the back right area. I noticed that there was also a small alcove to the left of the bar that went back a little ways. It had some more tables and chairs. The place wasn’t very crowded – but it was only 3:30pm on a Saturday and it was a beautiful day outside.

I moved to the bar and immediately noticed the boyish cuteness of the bartender. “Hiya,” he said, “What may I get you?” I noticed his great smile and the numerous piercings in his ears – not to mention the one in his tongue.

I was very excited because I already knew what I wanted, “A pint of Stella, please.”

He said, “Sure,” grabbed a glass and started to fill it from the tap. I had been told by a friend that Stella Artois, although not an English beer (it was Belgian), was very good. He also told me it had a nickname – “the wife beater” – but today I ignored that. The bartender placed the pint in front of me and said, “Two pounds, eighty, please.” I pulled out coins from my pocket and began to sort through them slowly.

I looked up a little embarrassed and said, “Sorry, it’s my first time.”

The bartender laughed and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle. Here let me help you.” I held out my palm and he picked the coins out quickly and explained each of them one-by-one as he placed them in the drawer. “You’ll get the hang of it, not to worry. My name is Dominic. Where are you from?”

That one question led to a conversation that lasted for about forty-five minutes. I told Dominic about my new job adn my new place. He said he was sure he’d be seeing a lot of me in the pub. I told him he was right. It was getting crowded by that time and he was pretty busy. I ordered my third pint, got the coins right this time, grabbed one of the local gay magazines by the door, and sat down on a stool at the counter that looked out the large front window. This was a great place to sit - I thought to myself. You could see so much. So many people walking down the street. The thumping music made a funny soundtrack to their steps. Many walked to the exact beat of the song.

I was marveling at this fact when a cheerful voice said, “You must be from the states.” I turned and was greeted by the face of a very handsome elderly gentleman. I would have guessed he was probably seventy years old or more. It was hard to tell. He had vibrant silver hair and beautiful deep-blue eyes. He was maybe five foot ten and had a great smile.

“Yes, I am. How can you tell?” I asked.

“Sorry friend, it is the shorts and the sandals. Hello, my name is Martin.” And he held out his perfectly manicured hand. There was something definitely youthful about Martin.

“And I am Anthony,” I said shaking his hand. “What’s wrong with my shorts and sandals.”

“Oh my dear Anthony, there is nothing wrong with either of them. The shorts are just a little shorter than we wear here and not many people in London wear sandals. You also have an American air about you. I might have guessed Canada, as well. I hope I haven’t offended you. I just thought it would be a great conversation starter.” I decided Martin was definitely a very good-looking man and his clothes also said that he probably did well financially.

As with Dominic before, Martin’s opening line turned into a very easy conversation that lasted for a long time. During our talk I shared everything about my upcoming three years in London. When I told him that my flat was at Camelot Towers he seemed impressed. He told me that building was a prime piece of real estate and then he stressed that I would one day be very happy I was there since it had air conditioning. Martin told me he was retired and lived in Hampstead. I told him I wasn’t familiar with that area but had read a little about it. He said that I would have to come let him show it off very soon. Then there was a lull in our conversation.

“Ah, Camelot Towers,” Martin finally said. “Named for a wonderful place and a marvelous time in England’s long history. And besides that, it is a mighty fine musical.” We both laughed.

I told him, “My parents played the Broadway recording of that show all through my childhood. And I devoured every book on King Arthur or similar stories that I could get my hands on.”

“That was very good of them,” Martin said in a voice that seemed to be thanking my parents. I must have had a confused look on my face because he quickly added, “I mean it is very good for parents to introduce their children to culture.”

“I agree. And it was an awesome fantasy world for me as a child,” I added.

“But Anthony – Camelot was indeed real. Oh, not the Camelot of the musical or even the books. But there was a King Arthur, a Guenevere, and of course that blasted round table. It was a time of great acceptance and inclusivity in England. A mighty fine time, indeed.” Martin was staring outside the window.

“And don’t forget Lancelot! I hope he was real too,” I said pulling Martin back into the conversation. “Since my last name is Lance I always connected with Lancelot in a special way. In fact, growing up I collected all this memorabilia that referred to Lancelot. I even had a mock knight’s helmet – if that’s what you call it. It had the name Lancelot written across the forehead. I know it sounds crazy but I even brought some of the expensive stuff with me. To put around my apartment – I mean my flat.”

Martin had turned back to me and was smiling. He started getting very excited as I spoke. “Oh, Anthony, it was certainly fortuitous that we met. I have a friend who has an antique shop and it has tons of items from Camelot theatrical events, the movie, and some very rare items from the real court of the real King Arthur. You must go there.

“Well, I will. That would be great,” I said – excited about possibly getting some more cool things. “I could get more stuff for my flat – especially because of the name of my building. Also, there isn’t much of any kind of decoration in the place. It doesn’t look lived in, you know.”

“You must go tomorrow Anthony,” exclaimed Martin. “If I did not already have plans I would take you there myself. Let me give you directions right this very moment.” And with that Martin pulled a little pad of paper and pen from the pocket of his jacket.

“Martin, I’m here for three years. There’s plenty of time,” I said laughing.

It was as if Martin wasn’t listening. He said, “Nonsense, Anthony. You’ll go tomorrow. The shop is only open on Sundays and you need to get things for your new place. He grabbed my arm and his grip was quite strong. I was surprised. “Promise me, Anthony, that you will go tomorrow. Promise me.” His face was very serious.

“Sure, Martin, sure. I’ll go tomorrow. I promise. I have no other plans.” He let go of my hand and I was relieved. That had been a tad scary. Martin quickly drew me a map and gave me the address.

“It is quite close to here. Just over in Covent Garden. It is on Maiden Lane. Now that lane is very small and it is easy to miss. My friend opens at eleven and closes at four. You are going to love it. As a matter of fact I will call him in the morning and tell him to bill me for anything you take.” He was very excited again.

“Martin, I can’t let you do that. You hardly know me. Really. I can’t. I will still go, though. I promise.” I was blown away by his generosity.

“Once again, Anthony, nonsense,” Martin said emphatically. “I have a feeling we are going to be great friends and consider this a housewarming gift.”

As weird as the earlier moment had made me feel, I did have the same sense about our friendship. I knew we’d be good friends and that Martin would make my transition to London easier. It was great to have a new friend. I said, “Well thank you, Martin. That is very kind. I am flattered. I promise not to go wild and spend all of your money.”

Martin laughed and said, “Anthony, there is no chance of that. I could buy that shop a few times over. I am not bragging. I am just old and have saved wisely. My money is old money – very old. I have found that money is nothing without friends to share it with. It gives me great pleasure to do this for you. Now I must go. It is late for an old man like me and I have a long ride home. Say, good friend, can we meet here Monday afternoon? The best time is four o’clock. It is before the work crowd gets here and just in time to watch them as they come in. Martin smiled a wicked smile and we both laughed.

“I will see you here at four on Monday,” I said. Martin patted me on the shoulder, paused for a few seconds after doing it – as if he was remembering something – and then walked away. When he got a few feet away he turned and said something to me. I couldn’t quite hear it because of the music and people’s voices. He could tell I hadn’t heard it, so he repeated it a little louder and then turned and left the pub.

I’m sure my mouth was wide open in shock. Martin had said, “You are going to be fine, Anthony, you have people looking out for you.”

I didn’t have time to think about the statement too much. Dominic was beside me with another Stella. He smiled and said, “This one’s on me. Welcome to London.”
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Old April 7th, 2007, 08:35 PM
"This is no trick!"
 
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Two things.

1."He's Got People."
2. I almost wanna move to England when college is done.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 12:17 AM
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This is getting SO good!

Please post more as so as you can!
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Old April 8th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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a bunch of nonsenes for you ;p

First of all you shoulda mentioned how sexy the british accent is I mean one of few things that make an already ridiculously hot guy even hotter is if when he opens his mouth to speak out comes a gorgeous british accent, mehehe (I've sometimes wondered if there's anyone in england as enamored by american accents as I am with theirs...)

so the portrait gallery's at tralfalger's, hm? One of my most vivid memories from my visit is of that gallery--my mom and i spending a whole afternoon there wandering from the very earliest to the most recent. Simply fabulous. Anyway a friend and I were trying to remember if that was "that museum on trafalgar I spetn all my time at when i was in london" (my friend that is; it's quite typical of my friend to not remember the name of the damn place too ;p)

ANYWAY, great story so far; enjoying it muchly, and I think I see how things are coming together--at least picking up on who's got friends where and when "friends" are showing up

great job so far--keep at'em!!
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Old April 9th, 2007, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sexiscriptor
First of all you shoulda mentioned how sexy the british accent is I mean one of few things that make an already ridiculously hot guy even hotter is if when he opens his mouth to speak out comes a gorgeous british accent, mehehe (I've sometimes wondered if there's anyone in england as enamored by american accents as I am with theirs...)
Oh trust me some American accents can be pretty hot, especially when your not used to hearing them. I'm British, so thanks for the compliment on the accent.
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