November 15, 2021


By aarondkey

I think my Web site hosted has vanished. I don’t know what this means for my site but in case it means it’s going to disappear soon I’d better give you a bit more of the story. I’m very depressed now. Everything was looking good but now I don’t know what to do but anyway please enjoy. Extract 17.

He dropped them off along the seashore and made his way back home, stopping off at a newsagent to find himself something to read and to buy more milk. Back at Stolid’s house he drove straight onto the gravel drive and heard the satisfying crunch he had been expecting last night. As he was letting himself into the front door he heard a small lorry revving up the steep hill behind him. He turned around to look and saw a name he recognised on its side from the emails showing deliveries that were expected today.

He carried on inside the house determined not to interfere with the antics of the two strangers and sat down in the study where he could watch what was going on.

He had the newspaper on the desk in front of him and began to read it. He struggled to retain interest so he reached to the bureau and took out the computer. He had the idea that he wanted to read the rest of that story he had found scraps of last night. It was not the sort of story he liked normally but he wanted to get a feel for the turn of Stolid’s mind. He opened Word and found the story there as the last document saved but trying to open it he found it password protected. He thought for a minute and tried a few ideas without success. Leaning back he tried to think, while keeping an eye on the man who rang the doorbell. He wondered if he would have to open the door but before he had decided to get up he saw Will race around the side of the house and start to talk to the delivery man. They walked together to the back of the lorry and Gerard followed quickly behind. As he walked across the window he looked briefly into the room where Timonthy sat and gave him a quick grin.  Timonthy pretended he didn’t see him and carried on staring into the middle distance thoughtful.

He was thinking that Stolid was highly unlikely not to have printed out a story he was writing but where would he keep it? Would he have taken it with it? Unlikely but possible. Still it was worth looking around. He looked in the bureau cupboards, kneeling on the ground. There was lots of paper but the wrong type he thought, as he piled it back inside and shut the doors.

As he stood up again he looked outside. Gerard was busy unloading quite impressive plants, Timonthy noticed in his admittedly ignorant way, as Will and the delivery driver were still talking with animation. They were certainly not the sort of pots he was used to buying at his local garden centre and planting with a trowel. Then Gerard seemed to shout for help and they worked for a while together, struggling with even larger pots. Eventually the whole load was stacked a few feet in front of the room he was trying to work in and the lorry roared down the hill again.

Timonthy moved over to the book shelves again. He ran his finger along each line, checking that his eye fell on every title and pulling out every untitled collection of paper until at last he found what he was looking for: a small blue envelope folder with an elastic tie. When he looked inside he saw the beginnings of the strange story he’d already seen fragments of.

He carried it through to the sitting room, sat down in the morning sun and began to read. After a few minutes he noticed the two men making their way down the side paths to the area near the pond and start working again. He became engrossed but realised as he came back to reality that time had passed. The sun had moved round the room he sat in. Thirsty, he decided it was time for a drink again. He opened the glass door and made his way to where the two men were now sitting, eating out of a basket which looked as if it would do for a enthusiastic child’s easter egg hunt. How quaint he thought to himself.

“Do either of you want a tea?” he asked.

Gerard looked blankly at him but Will said cheerfully,

“Yes please, one sugar in both.”

As he turned and made his way back up the stairs he heard them talking hurriedly again. He was disappointed. He was now almost certain that Gerard was not of normal intelligence and try as he would this knowledge affected the way he thought of him. Gerard had a child-like brain. This made him a child and of no interest to Timonthy who wanted an equal. The dispiriting thought came that he had misinterpreted the natural inquisitiveness of a child-like creature into personal interest. He groaned internally and felt very old as he made the tea.

He chose the chunkiest cups and made three cups of strong tea. He decided to sit with them as they drank hoping that they would tell him a bit more about what he wanted to know, even though he was not sure what this was. He handed Will the first cup he held singly and then transferred the other cup balancing precariously to a more solid hold. This he held out to Gerard. The smile he got as a thanks confused him even more. It was not a child-like smile. There seemed to be intelligence and humour lurking in it. He sat beside them balancing on the wall as they did.

“Have some food,” Gerard said, pointing in the basket. “We’ve got lots.” Timonthy ripped off a piece of bread and took some cheese. The bread tasted as if it had been made that morning, proper hand-kneaded home-made bread.

“How are you getting on?” he said. “It’s looking good.”

“Makes a nice change from our garden,” Gerard said. “It’s a more manageable size. You really notice the difference you’re making.”

Timonthy watched as they put his tea to their lips. Gerard almost shuddered but controlled it when he thought Timonthy was watching. Will made a more convincing show that he was enjoying the drink. It was almost as though they had never had tea before, Timonthy thought. He was sure that his attempt at making tea was not so bad it could cause that reaction otherwise.

He was reasonably sure that Gerard was not stupid now but there was definitely something odd about him: as though he had grown up somewhere so different that a lot of the world around him made no sense to him.  Will too, although to a lesser extent, gave the impression of a man on tiptoe: nervous as to what the world might threw at him.

What sort of place was it that Stolid had ended up in.

“Don’t you like the tea, then?” he asked Gerard. It was rude he knew but he was trying to get them to talk.

“It tastes different to what I’m used to,” he said quietly without raising his eyes from the cup.

“Gerard isn’t used to our ways,” Will said. “He’s spent most of his adult years in the Middle East and only just returned to Scotland. That’s why he likes coming down here. It gives him a completely different view on life compared to the quiet of our home and the madness he was used to out there.”

“What were you doing out there?” Timonthy asked. He hoped it sounded like a normal polite enquiry.

“Just working,” Will answered for him. Gerard smiled again as if apologising for his lack of input.

“I worked with horses,” he said. “They like their horses out there.”

“Why did you come back?” Timonthy tried to keep the conversation going.

“He ran into some trouble with the authorities,” Will said. “We try not to talk about it.” His expression pleaded for help: as if he could not answer for the consequences if his request was ignored.