The routine was now set in stone. By the end of this chapter, you will see the pun. Our haunts were the New Inn at Llanddewi Brefi and the pubs of Tregaron. We listened, watched, and talked in that order of priority. We were now welcome regulars at the New Inn. As much a part of the furniture as the locals, Smiles or the fixtures and fittings of a typical country pub. We were having many friendly chats with Smiles. It was common for us to spend two hours or so drinking in his company. We did notice something about Smiles’ habits. Even when Mary, his wife, accompanied him to the pub, it was obvious that the house was never left unattended. It was later to become clear that the reason for this was nothing to do with baby sitters. It was more to do with the secrets of Y Glyn.
We were also becoming frequent invited guests of Smiles in his home. He loved his music and was keen to play me his latest tastes, which also became part of my tastes. He introduced me to Joan Armatrading and Steely Dan. I will always be grateful to him for that. He also introduced me to Buddhist meditation. He had a whole room that looked like it was a shrine dedicated to Shiva. It was de rigeur to sit cross legged in meditation with him and chant “Om.” The sound repeated and uttered in a slow melody. This was irrefutable evidence that I had adopted a new persona! The meditation was often preceded by inhaling marijuana. Unlike a former President of the United States, I did inhale! Big time!
It was during one of these meditation sessions I almost did the unthinkable. I was so chilled, relaxed and at peace with the world. So completely comfortable in my new skin of Steve Jackson. I was in a space where Steve Bentley, the undercover policeman, did not exist. I had grown to like Smiles. I enjoyed his company. He was fun, intelligent and good-hearted.
Yet, I knew a time would come when I would betray him. Or at least betray our friendship. Make no mistake, I was now Jackson and living the lie. I have read accounts by actors when they say a character role had taken over their own personality. I understand that. I was playing a role in a real-life movie, one that was never going to make it into celluloid. It was a one-take movie with no room for mistakes or fumbling lines. Yet, it was also like having a split personality. On occasions, my alter ego would perch on my shoulder to remind me who I was. I came so close to warning Smiles. I wanted to do that. It was a fight to subdue a strong urge to tell him all.
My other self, the real me, prevented me from spilling the beans. I cannot over-emphasise how strong those emotions were. No one, and I mean no one, can understand what it felt like unless they have been in that same situation. It plays with your mind. I guess it could be described as a reverse Stockholm Syndrome. To this day, I often still feel more comfortable with the part of me that was Steve Jackson.
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