During the years that he was away from his son, George Friteuse kept a secret diary. What follows are the only interesting entries from those eight large volumes.
21st November 1977
Ah, this is the life; a life on the ocean wave and all that. I can’t believe that Emily’s book Cheese and Whine has sold so many copies and made us so much money. Obviously we can spend more money now that we don’t have Jim with us. I must point out, to anyone reading this after I’m gone, that it was never my idea to abandon Jim like that – but the deed is done. Besides, he will get a much better education and start in life without us messing it all up for him.
Emily is talking about writing another book and if it sells anything like the last one we will want for nothing for the rest of our lives. I have already published six novels, the most recent being Romanoworld, which like the other five, was a science-fiction book and, for obvious reasons, it is something I have never mentioned to Emily, given her hatred for the genre. As a further safeguard I published them all under the pseudonym Elroy Hubble and as a gimmick I instructed my agent never to release my real name or my whereabouts.
|Romanoworld by Elroy Hubble published by Possum Press (1977)|
She lives and breathes all this romantic rubbish and to be perfectly honest it does slightly get on my nerves.
3rd August 1978
Emily’s new book, Beds, Knobs and Grooms Sticks has just been published and it’s flying off the shelves.
|Beds, Knobs & Grooms Sticks by E.L. Friteuse published by Faker & Faker (1978)|
She is now talking about having some plastic surgery performed on her; she says that she had never liked her nose and would like to change it. I have no idea why she wants to do that to herself – it must be all the money going to her head.
Life on the boat is as relaxing as ever, although we are starting to get a little bored with the others' company; all she talks about is romance novels and it’s getting a bit tiresome.
Stangely, I’m not allowed to talk about science-fiction.
Stangely, I’m not allowed to talk about science-fiction.
I keep a secret stash of science-fiction books in a box and I’ve replaced their covers with those of her romance novels so that whenever she sees me reading she thinks I’m absorbed in the type of rubbish she reads. Whenever she asks me questions about the content of the book I usually say that the main protagonists are just about to have sex or something. This is generally about a third of the way through the book, just before they fall out over some ridiculously contrived reason. The great thing about the garbage she reads is that all the plotlines and characters are the same from one book to the next, which leads me to assume that the target audience probably comprises of bored spinsters with hundreds of cats and no imagination, residents of the Orangatanga Home for Fallen Women and estate agents.
It’s all a little bit annoying.
18th May 1979
Emily had the bandages removed today, following the plastic surgery on her nose. She seems to think it looks all right, but I think she looks a bit like the actor Karl Malden, although I didn’t say that to her. I just said, “Mmmm . . . sexy,” and that seemed to please her.
19th May 1979
Emily was furious with me this morning, wanting to know why I hadn’t told her that she looked like the actor Karl Malden. I asked her to calm down but she would have none of it and immediately booked another appointment with the plastic surgeon to get her nose put right.
3rd September 1979
Emily had the bandages removed today, following plastic surgery on her nose, cheekbones and lips. The good news is that she no longer looks like the actor Karl Malden; the bad news is she now closely resembles the actor Roddy McDowall; this wouldn’t have been so bad, except for the fact that it was when he was playing the character of Galen the chimpanzee in Planet of the Apes.
4th September 1980
After a year of extensive surgery Emily now looks like a woman again. Unfortunately her appearance is strikingly similar to that of Dame Barbara Cartland, author of several hundred extremely similar historical romances. She even had her hair blue-rinsed to complete the effect and got herself two yappy dogs that growl at me whenever I go near her.
She is starting to really annoy me now.
27th October 1980
My book Diuretics has been out for almost six months now and it seems that most of South Island is going crazy over it. The funny thing is I only wrote it as a joke. I mean, who in their right mind could ever believe in a race of Cheese-Men with urinary tract infections that were living inside Krakatoa?
Apparently, almost everyone on South Island, that’s who
17th February 1981
Star Trek – The Motion Picture has just been released in New Zealand but Emily has refused to go and see it with me and furthermore she has also banned me from seeing it on the grounds that it is science-fiction and therefore it must be rubbish. She says that all our money is from her earnings as a successful writer of romantic fiction and so she will not permit me to use her money to indulge myself in such puerile nonsense.
What a bitch!
What a bitch!
18th February 1981
I decided to go and see Star Trek with some friends I met in the pub; they were all Trekkies and we were all very excited about seeing it, but when the night came around those two bloody dogs of hers started yapping as soon as I began sneaking off the boat. Emily emerged from the galley dressed entirely in pink chiffon, clutching a glass of champagne in one hand and a sceptre in the other. She immediately started to accuse me of going to see the Star Trek film against her express wishes. Of course I denied it, but the Star Fleet uniform I was wearing at the time was a dead giveaway.
I am really beginning to dislike my wife.
30th June 1981
The world or South Island at least, has officially gone mad. The people of North Island want to lynch me and the South Islanders want to proclaim me as some kind of messiah. I don’t understand it. Some idiot calling himself GBH has even formed his own church based around my books of fiction. Only a moron would form a religion based on the ramblings of a hack writer of bad science-fiction and only cretins would follow it.
10th May 1982
Bad news – Emily has discovered my secret identity and she is threatening to go to the authorities if I do not comply with her wishes; unfortunately her wishes don’t include anything involving three exotic Asian dancers, a black bin bag, several plastic rulers and a parrot.
I hate my wife.
29th February 1983
Emily has had more plastic surgery and she now no longer looks like Barbara Cartland. It’s quite difficult to explain what she looks like now as it almost appears to be several different people inhabiting the same face (I must write this down somewhere – maybe in a secret diary or something – so that I can remember it for an idea for a short science-fiction story).
Emily is getting much worse. The seemingly endless plastic surgeries have affected her mind and she now thinks that she is Claude Rains in The Phantom of the Opera. She walks around the deck at night wearing a wide brimmed hat and a black cape with a mask over her face, saying, “Ooh Betty” and giggling at the same time.
She is becoming more and more deranged as time goes on. On the bright side though, she didn’t notice me sneaking off the boat to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
17th March 1984
While Emily was walking her two yappy dogs last night a leopard that had escaped from Sydney zoo, jumped out of the shadows and ate them both. It would have eaten Emily too had it not been for her terrifying features. As soon as she swirled her cape, the leopard was momentarily blinded by the yellow DayGlo lining and as it was about to pounce her mask slipped off her face and struck terror into the heart of that wild beast. After that the leopard just whimpered and slinked off into the undergrowth with its tail between its legs. I heard on the news today that the leopard suffered such trauma that it was found sitting outside its enclosure at the zoo waiting to be let back in.
It was an opportunity wasted. If her mask hadn’t slipped off I would be free now.
But at least the dogs were gone.
30th August 1985
Emily has gone quite insane. She told me today that she was Nosferatu the vampire and that she was going drink my blood, but not before alerting the authorities and the members of the Late Afternoon Goudaistic Church of the Seven Hard Cheeses (who were still clinging to life in the burns unit) of my whereabouts. She gave a kind of muted pantomime baddie laugh and she seemed to be enjoying every second of my misery.
But I had had enough and slapped her across the face. It was only a light tap really, but the years of plastic surgery had taken their toll and her skin had the consistency of rice paper. As soon as my hand connected with her face her entire facial features flew off in one grisly lump and landed with a splat on the deck. I was stood looking at a gaping hole that was gurgling some kind of nonsense at me and I thought that this was my opportunity to be rid of her once and for all. I grabbed her by the waist, trying not to get my hands anywhere near her face as I don’t really like anything sticky or messy on my fingers, and hurled her overboard. The lead weights I had attached to her ankles a hour beforehand helped to drag her body to the bottom of the ocean.
I was free now to go and see Star Trek III: The Search for Spock!
27th October 1985
I have just received word that my son Jim is in danger in a place called Braintree. I had to look it up in the atlas and was relieved to find that it was in England. I was a little worried at first in case it might have been in Australia or worse, Egypt! I don’t how this person knows who I am or how I am connected to Jim, but I have a really bad feeling about this.
The note is signed CF, whoever or whatever that is.
28th October 1985
I scuppered the boat today and with it my last memories of Emily went down to Davy Jones's Locker. Then I booked a flight to London for the 3rd November. My agent has organised a fake passport for me under the name of Wulf Sternhammer.
Here’s hoping I’m not too late!
Will George/Elroy/Wulf be too late?
Obviously not – because you should have already read Chapter 15, where it describes him meeting Jim at the Frontiere Factory in Braintree a couple of days later.
But who is CF and what will happen next?
Even I don’t know that!
Find out for yourself in Chapter 17: CHEESEFINGER!