January 20, 2022

Extract 26

By aarondkey

He came back and picked unenthusiastically at the remains of his dessert: some sort of uninspiring variant on a cheesecake.

“Unusual stuff!” Gerard said. He had chosen the same although he had managed to finish his, presumably with the appetite built up after a day working hard in the garden.   

“Yes, I think I will leave the rest of this,” Timonthy said watching Lizzie and Will laughing. He was worrying about the seats in his car if the truth was told. Perhaps he would make sure that Lizzie sat in the back. With three of them there would be less seat exposed and in fact he could put down a travel blanket he thought happily. It was he who had called Stolid boring, he mocked himself.  

“Would you like me to visit you tonight?” Gerard said quietly.

Timonthy regarded him gravely. “I would like that,” he said eventually. “I don’t know whether it would be possible though. Would Will let you wander off on your own?”

“He’s not my keeper but don’t worry he will sleep like a log tonight,” Gerard predicted. “Even if he doesn’t I’ll tell him I’m going for a walk.”

“You can tell me all about Stolid’s plan,” Timonthy said to show that he had no specific expectations of the night.

“I wasn’t planning on doing much talking,” Gerard said, with a suppressed grin.

Timonthy paid the bill and herded the whole party out of the pub. He made them wait while he covered the back seat with a blanket, put Lizzie by a window and with a touch of guilt Paris next to her holding a bag. Gerard sat in the front this time. They were nearly home before he heard the noise he was dreading. He pulled the car over, leapt out like a teenager and opened her door quickly, just in time.

It was like going back to Paris’s youth, he thought. Every journey interrupted with a sick break, not always for her to be sick in, sometimes just to avoid the crisis: walking up and down unattractive tarmac waiting for the feeling to pass, impatient just like now. This time Paris was there to help him and he had nothing more to do than to feel his impatience, try and curb it.

“Are we alright to carry on?” he asked eventually. He received a nod and a shudder. Eventually they drove onto the crunching gravel again. Lizzie and Paris disappeared upstairs straight away and he gave thanks to the girl for relieving him of the unrewarding task that was usually his duty.

“I’ll make a warm drink,” he said to Will. “Why don’t you check you’ve got everything you need for the night before you disappear.”

He found some chocolate powder in the cupboard and there was enough milk to make four drinks of it. They’d done nothing but drink all evening he thought with slight disgust but this was his habit at bedtime and he felt guilty sending the men out into the cold without anything.

He thought Gerard had followed Will as he normally did but as he raised his head he noticed him still stood silently in a corner of the room. He looked like he was thinking about saying something but he stayed quiet.

“I’ll need to take your key off you,” Timonthy said gruff with embarrassment, remembering his promise to Lizzie.

“Will has it,” Gerard hesitated. “Will your friend be alright?”

“Oh yes, Lizzie I assume you mean. She’ll have a headache and be grumpy tomorrow but she’ll be fine.”

“That’s good then. Will you signal me, if you still want me?”

“I’ll flash the lights off and on. Wait for me over there,” Timonthy indicated the area outside the dining room door. He smiled to see Gerard looking so woebegone.

“What’s wrong? Have you changed your mind?”

“No. I thought your friend was going to die. I thought you would’ve been otherwise occupied. I’m glad she’s fine.”

There he goes again – being weird, Timonthy thought, as if he’d never seen a drunk woman before. It wasn’t a pretty sight, he had to admit. He felt slightly guilty as it had been his and Paris’s plan which had led to Lizzie’s indisposition.

The other part of their plan didn’t seem to have worked, although he still needed to hear back from Paris on the conversation from the other side of the table. He was fairly certain, in spite of his promise, that Gerard wouldn’t be completely silent later (it didn’t seem to be in his nature) so there still might be things to learn.

Will came back and said that they had everything they needed. He’d sorted out blankets and torches before they went to the pub. They finished their drinks, visited the bathroom and disappeared into the night after handing him the key. Timonthy stood at the glass door feeling the nip of the starry night. He waited until they reached the summer house, out of sight and shut the door.

He heard Paris coming down the stairs again and stood waiting for him, hovering above his chair.

She smiled at him. “I’m just getting a bowl, just in case. I’ve put her in your old room. I hope that is okay?”

“Yes. I’ll sleep in Stolid’s room tonight,” Timonthy said. “I’ve made you a hot chocolate.”

“I’ll be back in a minute.”

He sat down and waited. Eventually she came back, picked up her hot chocolate and sat beside him.

“Did you learn anything?” she asked. “You seemed to be talking a lot?”

“Only that Gerard knows Stolid reasonably well. That he was the one who told Gerard to come here, to meet me, I’m sure he said, though I don’t know how Stolid knew I was here.”

Now he was puzzled. He hadn’t thought of this before. He couldn’t ask Gerard until later. He wondered if he would remember then. 

“That’s strange,” Paris frowned. “Well we learnt something. Not that it helps at all. Will hasn’t got a mobile phone. In fact, he doesn’t know how to use one, even.”

“But I saw him…” Timonthy trailed off. He had seen him with his hand to his ear. He’d assumed he was on a phone.

“Are you sure?” he said. His mind was racing ahead. If he hadn’t been phoning Peter then how had he contacted him? How had he arranged for him to pick them up, for Elena to go to London? Was any of it true? Then he remembered Gerard saying that Stolid was living somewhere very remote and Will interrupting him to say that there were no mobile phone signals, no landlines. How would he have got hold of Peter then even if he had a phone?

“Reasonably sure,” Paris said doubtfully. “That’s what he said anyway and he gave a good impression of someone with an alien piece of technology when mother showed him her phone.”

“Oh god!” Timonthy said with force. “If that is true then it seems likely that they will disappear in the night and we’ll never get to meet Peter at all.”

“But why?” Paris said. “What would be the point of it all?”

“I don’t know,” TImonthy had to admit. He was getting a cold feeling around the ears. Had Gerard tricked him? Was he really going to visit him later or just vanish forever? If he was going to vanish, what was the point of promising to be there. It wasn’t even funny, just a bit cruel. This question he couldn’t resolve until the morning.         

“How is your mother?” he settled for asking.

“She’s dropping off now, feeling a lot better after being sick.”

“Thank-you for your help,” he said with true feeling.

“It was the least I could do after foisting her on you,” Paris said smiling.

“Paris,” he said and paused.


“About that question you asked me earlier. I wanted to say, you’re named after the man not the city.”

“Oh,” Paris said and looked confused. “Why did you name me after a man?”

He tried to divert her attention with something he had never told her before. “Do you know what my real name is?”

She looked confused, “Isn’t it Timonthy?”

“No, my name is Timon.” He said it as if he was confessing a crime.

“Well why does everyone call you Timonthy then?”

“It started at school,” he mused. “Timon was a stupid name, so I was called Tim, and then people assumed that my name was Timothy and I never bothered to argue. Once Johnathon started calling me it, it didn’t seem worth correcting everyone and it began to sound natural as if it was really my name.”