Chapter EIGHT by Framboise Gommendy

Charles Buckler was staring at his old HP screen in the lounge of the Copacabana Hotel, pretending to work. Well, he was sort of reviewing the massive article he’d been working on for weeks, but in fact, he was, as ever, researching. The rest of the world would have called it  “spying” mind. But as far as he was concerned, watching, observing, memorising people’s ins and outs, routines, friendships, body language, all that was only and always about work.

He was proud of what he achieved. His website, was the biggest site in the world of squash. Equivalent of the British tabloid The Sun, it was a place where you would hear and read about all the gossip before anywhere else. He was adamant he was 50% to be thanked for Squash becoming Olympic. Thanks to the site, the non squash lovers had started getting into the scandals, sex stories, and other delicatessen, raising squash’s profile in the world. And it worked. Squash became a household name.

“You’ve lowered squash to Football’s level” he was reproached often “And I’m proud of it” he retorted! “Football is an Olympic sport, and the players are earning millions! Good job if I can bring squash to that level then…”

Nobody knew exactly how old Buckley was. Probably in his early sixties. Despite his scruffy appearance, he was extremely fit, and would run for hours near his house in Hatton Cross, next to Heathrow, London’s busiest airport. Not the easiest part of the world to run around in to be honest, a mixture of roads and motorways, but he’d been managing for years, and it was during his long runs that he was actually writing his articles. In his mind, with his vivid imagination and his sensational knack for sensationalism…

He was aware of not having many friends. Well, not one would be more accurate. Only close to him was his webmaster Dave, that nobody ever saw, he was never allowed out of his garage, and rumours were the garage was actually locked and Buckler lost the key years ago…

So Buckler was “working” away in the lounge, pretending to look at his laptop screen while in fact peeping at the players, officials, organisers, entering, exiting, having a drink at the bar, hanging around for a shuttle to visit the town…

Suddenly, the concierge came up to him. “Sorry, Mr Buckler, your niece is waiting for you in your room, as you asked.” Blast. She was early. He quickly stood up, unplugged the charger, took his bag, and rushed to the lift.

As he climbed to the 56th floor, the top one thank you very much, he was starting to feel his heart pounding louder and louder. Buckler lived for two things. Sex and Squash. He both hated and loved them equally, never had the phrase “a love/hate relationship”  been more accurate to describe feelings.

“Never getting emotionally involved” should be written on my grave, he smiled as the lift reached the end of the raise. He never watched live squash really – “I’m not paid to watch squash, but to write about it” was his catch phrase, only looking at it on replay, with no sound. No feeling. No atmosphere. Just pure movement/technique.

By the same token, Sex had to be with pros only. He was using a Call Girl network that he took years to assemble, kept in a little folder called “TravellingDetails” on his desktop. Rio was his latest entry. He would use the same girl for the whole tournament – always giving her the same name, ‘Sarah’.

So, for the third night in a row, ‘Sarah’, who was working from a suite in the hotel under the name of “VIP Special Customer Services”, convenient and discreet , was waiting for him. She was as he liked  his women. Tall, dark hair, with curves where you expect them, and with legs, legs, and legs. .

As he opened his own suite – compliment of the Hotel for using their “special services” – he found her as he asked, laying on the table of the living room, legs in the inverse position of a skier looking for speed on a ski slot, nicely open. Adrenalin rushed to his brain, blood to a lower part of his body, and it was only the banging of the table on the wall that made him realise that he actually pushed table/girl so forcefully that they both  travelled across the room. That’s what “being in the zone” means he thought…

‘Sarah’ seemed to have appreciated the journey now that they arrived at the final destination, and was smiling nicely as she went to the shower room, beautifully undressed. Just looking at her curves moving gracefully in that superb suite, Buckley decided that he wouldn’t mind another visit and discover more of the secrets of her stunning body, and joined her in the shower.

As he finally rested on his bed, still dripping from the shower that he eventually took alone now that ‘Sarah’ had left, he was smiling, relaxed and content. Of course, sex was good, and had relaxed him, but that was not why he was smiling. He was mentally reviewing his last article.

His farewell edition.

A few weeks ago, he had had the results of tests he took. Not good. Lung cancer. Not that he was surprised though. Smoking 2 packets of Belomorkanal a day, considered the strongest cigarettes in the world, for 25 years, was a bit like playing Russian Roulette with all the bullets in the chamber…

On hearing the news, he had decided to live life fully from now on. Found a buyer for his site – he would be able to afford the best cancer treatment in Italy with the Professeur Lagardère, and live whatever life he had to live under the sun – and was about to retire, anything but gracefully.

Once again, he was reviewing the principal lines of this ultimate edition in his mind.

First, there was the Shelley Anderson story, who had covered up Tyler Wolfe’s failed drug tests for the last two Australian Opens. Out of his 5 titles, Wolfie was clean for 3, but failed the last two tests. Shelley managed to make sure the tests were supervised by her girlfriend, Rhodaine Maison, who forged the results. Check.

Then the gay affair between New Yorker Emily Miller and Cambridge wonder Julia Brown. They family and sponsors would hit the roof when they would hear the girls had been secretly seeing each other for two years. Although Olympic, Squash was not Gay friendly yet… Check 2.

Of course, we had the Allenby con, the promoter who took a 3 million dollar insurance policy on the Brazilian tournament , and would be a very rich man if the tournament wouldn’t happen – hence hiding the two glass panels thanks to the Head of Security, and making sure that all sorts of trouble would prevent its start. Check 3.

But the “coup de grace”, the cherry on the cake, the revelation of the true identity of Florencia Perez, who appeared from nowhere once day. Real name Florencio Hoskin, as in Erika Hoskin’s son. No wonder no one ever heard of Florencia in the juniors. There never was a Florencia…

Check mate.

That last story was the biggest of his career, by far. He was rewriting and rewriting it, to make sure that bombshell would make the maximum damage, and decided to have another go at it. He slowly sat up, then went to his computer bag. Sweat immediately covered his body as he realised his laptop was not in it. Mentally, he retraced his movement. Working, Concierge calling, folding the cable, taking the bag. Wait. He didn’t  close the laptop, didn’t put it in the bag. Hysterically scared, he rushed to the phone, and called reception.

“Yes sir, somebody brought a computer back to the desk… yes, it’s an old HP … Yes, somebody from the squash group brought it back… No sir, not sure if it’s a man or a woman, it was before my shift, I was only given the message.. Yes sir, of course, I’ll send somebody right away.”

Buckler was now sweating very heavily and his heart pounding again, not as nicely as a few minutes before, though. “Somebody from the squash group”. Did they read what was on the screen? He was working on that “Murder on the Squash Court, take 2” as he called it when he was interrupted.

And what if that person was going to reveal his story. Or confront him? In his perfect plan, he would have been on a beach in the Caribbean when the scandal hit the squash fans, far, far away.

How had he been so careless and utterly idiotic?? Oh yes, because of sex. Oh well, fair enough…A knock on the door startled him. “Must be the computer” he thought.

But it wasn’t.

“What are you doing here, and what do you want” he grunted, looking at the visitor.

He never got an answer. A sharp pain on the right of his chest, a very loud noise resounding in the empty corridor. His incredulous eyes fixing his chest, where the blood was starting to pour out.

And as his life was slowly ending, he heard himself think “I wonder who is going to write my obituary”….

About the Author 

Framboise Gommendy  In another life, Framboise is an actress (, and still makes a living out of her initial job, well, sometimes. In November 2004, she created SquashSite with Steve Cubbins.

Her writing, which could be described as “different”, and the layout/style she imagined for SquashSite, along with Legend Cubbins’ amazing webmastering talent, have made SquashSite much more than just an information site….

If you are looking for nice, traditional sports reporting, you are on the wrong page. Loose canon, volatile, flamboyant, original? Look no further….

Next Up: Chapter NINE by Pierre Bastien

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One comment

  1. Absolutely brilliant chapter, by Framboise!

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