Gaby den Held - REUNION, novel

Dorian Pots, a known and loved urologist, arrives on a sunny May day in Diepenheim, the city of his youth. He thinks to start a new life with Jasper van Vliet, his former puppy love. But then he meets Titus Blakenhol on the terrace of cafe Boonk, wearing a blue polka dot dress. This willy-nilly old school chum, the clown of the class, tells him: "See you tonight at the reunion of our old school class." A reunion? Why does Dorian knows nothing about it? His former classmates have more surprises in store. Ingredients for an equally grim as entertaining tragi-comedy. 


Dorian Pots and Titus Balkenhol were the bullies of Lombardus College. Years later, they meet again on the terrace of cafe Boonk in Diepenheim. Dorian hears that on the same evening a reunion is organized with ten former classmates. This will take place in Dorian's parents house. But now his mother - Iris Pots - has sold the estate with the monumental villa to Titus and his Italian wife Rosa, without the knowledge of her son with whom she has a contentious relationship.

While preparations for the reunion are going on, a boy roams around Diepenheim who claims to be a waterbrat. Waterbrats are the local water spirits. According to the legend, they attract children into the Schipbeek (a brook in Diepenheim). The story of the waterbrat is closely linked to a tragic event of years ago. Three boys: Dorian, Titus and Floor (the young brother of classmate Jasper) went on a joyride. The ride ended in the Schipbeek and Floor perished there.

The reunionists arrive at Villa Bergval. Meanwhile, Floor - the alleged waterbrat - appears to be a part of a vengeful plan that the classmates have devised, to teach Titus and Dorian a lesson. There is no mutual solidarity: they all have their own agenda. The reunion starts quietly, but saving the venom is asking too much for some. The evening ends with the Schipbeek drama. Revenge tastes sweet. Does it?


The beginning of the novel:

On a sunny day in May, Dorian Pots arrived at a hotel just outside Diepenheim in the Dutch region of Twente. After a quick lunch in the restaurant he decided to take a brisk walk to this tiny medieval town where he had an appointment at two. He was three quarters of an hour early and settled on the terrace of cafe Boonk. A few minutes later, the silence was interrupted by the click clack of approaching heels. He looked up and saw a tall figure dressed in a bright blue polka dot dress. A rugged diva firmly walked on the terrace and seated herself, two tables away. Grey curls framed a harsh make-up spackled phiz. Dorian’s gaze attached to hers. She looked questioningly, followed by a surprised smile. Her fiery red mouth fell a little open. Then she cried with booming voice:  
‘Well, well, Dorian Pots! My old schoolmate!’
A dark memory seeped slowly inside and stuck to the tentacles of his consciousness like syrup. 
Good heavens! Now he knew who was that eccentric. Titus Balkenhol. The clown from his school days. Dorian wanted to pick up his heels, but instead he heard his robot answering:
‘Hello Titus. That's a long time ago.'
‘What a coincidence that I find you here! Come dude, sit next to me!'
Titus seized a waitress and ordered two beer.
‘To the good old days!’ Titus said and chinked his glass against his.
‘To the good old days', Dorian echoed.
‘And how are you faring?" asked Dorian, more to distract attention from himself than out of genuine interest.
‘I can’t complain. I am a successful businessman so to speak. No one had expected this when I took my final exam with the narrowest of margins. Certainly I didn’t. Nothing ever interested me and I had no idea what I wanted to be in life. Then I met Floris. Together we builded up a painting company. It wasn’t immediately bingo, but after a few years the name of Balkenhol & Swan was settled. Especially for painting historic buildings one could no longer avoid us.’
‘And are you married? Do you have a relationship?’
‘Yes, I am now very happily married. My previous marriage was a disaster, but Rosa is great. I'm glad that I got her from Italy. And you?'
‘For five years I'm an urologist at the Amsterdam VU Medical Centre. There I met Sophie. We now live together in Amsterdam and have a daughter of three years, Lisa.’
Titus nodded approvingly. Then he stood up and said:
‘Hey, it's great to meet you, but I have to go. See you tonight, at the reunion of our class!’
Dorian felt his shoulder still tingling from the smack as he wondered: 'A reunion? Why don't I know anything about that?’