The next SEVERAL weeks ‘The Words’ will be dedicated to the sharing of my fanfic opus. Of course, I’m writing it from MY perspective, based on MY fantasies–I’ve even sort of used MY name!–but there’s a little more to this story than that. Years ago, (at least eight, possibly a bit more), I sent a video to a friend on a messageboard for the 1972 film “The Poseido Adventure.” Many in the group had been writing fan fiction about the film’s characters, so when this friend asked what he could do to repay me, I said, “Write me an Acres story!” (for anyone who DOESN’T know, the steward, Acres, is played by Roddy McDowall, and anyone who doesn’t know about me and Roddy McDowall just HASN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION!). He wrote me a letter from Acres to his younger sister, Jules, then I took that concept and created a full story around it, incorporating the letter, as well as other aspects of the fan-fic output of the TPA Messageboard group. I’ve shared parts of it with a few people, but it’s been rewritten a few times over the years, and I don’t think anyone’s seen the whole thing, so without further ado…
Acres: Another View of the Poseidon Adventure
Liam Acres had been at sea for over half of his life. He signed on as a dishwasher on the Queen Mary when he was just sixteen. His congenial manner, and willingness to learn, enabled him to become a cabin steward after only six months, even thought he was underage. He remained with the QM for eight years and in 1962 he moved on to the Poseidon. After ten years with the ship he was now one of the senior dining room stewards. For five of those years, he had worked closely with Kevin Peters, a Londoner, two years his senior. Together they catered to every possible mealtime need of their dozen assigned passengers. In fact, many repeat passengers requested to be seated in their section.
Acres, as his passengers knew him, was happy with his life at sea, and considered his Poseidon crewmates family. However, this didn’t keep him from maintaining close ties with his biological family. Raised near Glasgow, Scotland, Liam was the second of Tavish and Maureen Acres’ four children. Tavish spent his career in the Royal Navy, and eldest son Duncan enlisted at age eighteen, following in his father’s footsteps. Younger son Ian stayed in Scotland, but moved to Edinburgh, and was a chef at a four-star hotel. The youngest child was Juliana. She had spent her whole life trying to keep up with her three older brothers, was a tomboy as a child, and was known to everyone as ‘Jules.’ Jules hadn’t settled on a career yet, but was living in London and working at a trendy dress shop.
Liam and Jules had always been especially close. Although they were nine years apart, they shared the same birthday, which created a special bond from the beginning. They also looked a great deal alike, with the same thick brown hair and deep brown eyes. Whenever possible, they would spent time together. She had even made several crossings on the Poseidon—once as a stowaway, once as her brother’s paid guest, and the other times working for the line, usually as a stewardess.
The siblings also bonded over being the unconventional members of their family. Their brothers, Dunc and Ian, had married young and started families, but that lifestyle didn’t appeal to either Liam or Jules. Liam had been part of the beat, and then later hippie countercultures, (although he adhered to strict British discipline when around passengers), and Jules embraced a similar bohemian philosophy when she moved away from her parents home. They were both political and social activists and shared many of the same friends.
Neither had married, although they had each been in long-term relationships, in addition to the occasional flings. In the fall of 1972 they were both unattached; Liam after the painful breakup of a three-year relationship with Paul, a struggling actor, who lived in New York City. and Jules after six months as part of an experimental group marriage that was part of a small London commune. They were both looking forward to spending most of January together in sunny Greece.
Juliana, ‘Jules,’ Acres arrived in Athens, home of the Greek Majestic Line, just after Christmas, a few days before Liam was due on the Poseidon. She had arranged the rental of a cozy little house right on the beach. Everything was ready for her brother’s arrival by New Years Eve when she went to the GML offices to pick up a letter he had sent her from Gibraltar. She smiled to herself as she walked along the shore, reading her brother’s words to her…
“My Dearest Jules,
“I hope this letter finds you well and prepared for my arrival, (I’m exhausted by this crossing, so I will be of no use for anything other than lying in the sun). This getaway is such a wonderful idea, and I know we both need this time to clear our heads.
“I haven’t heard anything from Paul, but then I really didn’t expect to. I have no ill feelings toward him, and hope he will be happy with the choices he has made. I suppose it is difficult for most people to maintain relationships with almost constant separation. Of course Ma and Da did okay, didn’t they?
“This has been a terribly hectic crossing! The sea has been somewhat rough, so many passengers, and even crewmembers, have been seasick. Also the big New Year’s party has taken a great deal of preparation—everything must be perfect, of course.
“We have a famous author on board this trip, and I managed to get us each an autographed copy of his new book. I hope you’ll like it.
“I also hear through the grapevine that a band we know is joining us at Gibraltar, and will play for the big bash. Remember Sunray, with Ted Parry and his sister Nonnie? They’re Yanks and we saw them in London last summer and went back to their hotel for that party? It will be good to see them and I’ll be sure to say hello for you.
“Your Evil Twin sends her love! She has been a great help to me lately, getting over Paul. I insisted that she come by the house for a few days, and she is looking forward to it.
“I need to dash now, Luv, because it’s time for Kev and me to set up for lunch before we dock at Gibraltar. I’ll be sure to post this while we’re in port. Save some champagne and a funny hat for me, so we can have our own celebration. See you soon!
Jules had to laugh as she read parts of her brother’s letter, especially the bit about her ‘Evil Twin.’ Julia Finney, (also called ‘Jules’ by pretty much everyone except Liam), had been with the Poseidon for almost five years now, and was a close friend of both the Acres siblings. Julia worked as the masseuse on the ship. She was an American from Denver, Colorado, blonde with green eyes, and shared the same 17 September birthday, three years younger than Liam. Julia hadn’t been able to participate in the birthday blowout this past fall, and Jules hadn’t seen her since summer. She was especially looking forward to this visit because she knew Julia would know how Liam was really doing. She had always secretly hoped that a romantic relationship would develop between the Yank and her brother: but nothing had ever materialized.
Once Jules arrived at the rental house she had just enough time to change for a New Years party thrown by some employees of the Greek Majestic Line.
Back on the Poseidon, moving across the Mediterranean, Liam was very busy. After helping set up the grand dining room for the party, he grabbed a quick meal with Julia, and changed into his formal uniform.
Before leaving his cabin, he kissed her lightly. “I expect to see you in the Trident Bar no later than 11:45,” he reminded her. “Don’t be late, I’ve spent too many midnights alone.”
She smiled up from the bed, and put her arms around his neck, pulling him close for a longer kiss. “I’ll be there by 11:30!” she whispered. “I’ve spent too many midnights alone too, and I don’t want to miss one second of the time we have together.”
As he hurried from the room, she lay back smiling. This had certainly been an extraordinary crossing! She loved both Liam and his sister dearly, but had never expected anything beyond a sibling relationship with him. Now that her relationship with Liam had changed, she felt like he might be the love of her life, and she never wanted to let him go. She couldn’t wait to see Jules’ reaction.
By 11:15 Julia was walking down the corridor near her cabin on D deck. She was dressed in a multi-colored mini dress and go-go boots, and was humming a song she’d heard Sunray rehearsing earlier in the day. She was looking forward to this special occasion with Liam, and saw the approaching year as a fresh start to their lives. They had previously spent a couple New Years Eves together, but this one would be different.
As she hurried along she was stopped by Marie, the ship’s hairdresser.
“Oi, Jules! Where are you off to all done up?”
Julia knew all about shipboard gossip, so she gave Marie a wink. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” she asked, then added, “Will you be at the party later tonight?’
Marie threw her hands up in exasperation. “If I can get that horrible Mrs. Gleason’s wig to her! I’ve had just an awful time with it. It’s old and half-bald, so getting it to look presentable is a major job! I’m sick of old, stingy, rich broads like her!”
“Well, I guess you’d better get to it then. I’ll see you in the Crew Lounge at around one.” She blew Marie a kiss and went on her way. She knew all about Mrs. Gleason, so she understood the hairdresser’s frustration.
Once Julia got to the Trident, adjoining the dining room, she took a seat at the end of the bar. Brian Curry, the bartender, greeted her, “Hi, Jules! The usual?”
“Sure, Bri,” she smiled. “How is it going tonight?”
“Pretty well,” Curry sighed. “One thing for sure, they’re drinking a lot tonight.” He handed her a vodka collins as he continued to work. “Right now I’m trying to get everything ready for the big toast. Micky is still sick, so he didn’t make it in, but your…uh…pal,” he gave her a knowing look, “has been helping me all evening. He should be back any second to take more bubbly out to the passengers.” As the bartender continued filling glasses, he smiled warmly at her. “I just want to say how glad I am for the two of you! I’ve known Liam for years, and I’ve never seen him as happy as he’s been the last few days. I knew from the time I met you that you two were meant for each other—you each just had to figure it out. Don’t let him go, Jules. He really loves you.”
“Who loves who? Come on, Brian, dish!” Liam teased as he entered, carrying a tray of empty glasses and bottles. He set the tray down on the bar, stood behind the stool Julia was sitting on, and put his arms around her.
“Just the ship’s juiciest love story in years!” Brian gushed, his eyes sparkling. “You know, the cute, broken-hearted—GAY—steward and the masseuse? Can you believe it?” he asked, grinning. “I think even some of the passengers are talking about it, especially the young, love-struck ladies… You know THAT fantasy!”
Liam and Julia smiled at each other as one of the passengers entered the bar. Suddenly the three were all business.
“What can I do for you, Mr. Martin?” Liam asked. They all recognized James Martin, a shy bachelor from the Midwestern US.
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Martin smiled and replied, “but I was wondering if I could have a bottle of mineral water?”
“No problem at all, Sir,” Brian cheerfully answered. Reaching under the bar he brought out a small green bottle, and opened it. “Here you are, Sir, the best mineral water from France. Would you like me to pour you a glass? Perhaps a nice lemon or lime wedge?”
“Oh no, that’s not necessary. I have a glass at my table. Thank you, Mr. Curry. Happy New Year Miss Finney, Mr. Acres, Mr. Curry,” he added, before turning to go.
“Happy New Year, Mr. Martin,” the three shipmates answered.
After Martin was gone, Liam turned back to Julia. “You can come over to the linen service area with me now if you want, Luv. I only have one more tray to take to the dining room for Brian, then I’ll be back at my regular station the rest of the evening. I’ve even stashed a bottle of champagne for us.”
“I’ll be over in a bit. I’ve got a few last minute party details to go over with Bri first. I’ll be there in plenty of time, don’t worry. We’ve still got about ten minutes.” She looked around for more passengers, then kissed him on the cheek. As he left the bar she turned back to Brian. “So, is the room ready? I think we’ve got about thirty coming. The food’s all set, but what about the hooch?”
“Everything’s there, don’t worry,” he grinned. “Thirty? I thought we only had twenty-five of us idiots.”
“Well, I ran into Nonnie Parry this afternoon, and Sunray is coming too. Maybe they’ll even play a little for us. I haven’t told Liam yet, but I know he’ll be thrilled.”
“Great! I haven’t gotten to spend any time with them since they boarded.” There was a twinkle in his eye, as he added; “Maybe I can even corner Teddy…”
“Brian! What about Sean?” Julia asked.
“We have an…understanding about such things,” he answered, grinning, “besides, a little harmless flirting never hurt anyone.”
“You never give up, do you?” she laughed.
“What can I say, you inspire me, darlin’! You never gave up,” he answered, giving her a wink.
“It wasn’t like that, and you know it,” Julia exclaimed, with mock anger.
“Yeah, I know,” Curry sighed, “but where there’s life, there’s hope. Besides, don’t you just adore Teddy’s hair…? And that beard!”
“You’re too much, Bri! See you later.”
We’ve got almost to midnight, (in the story AND in my real life!), so that’s enough for this week. Come back next Saturday to read more…