“Would you like me to do that?” Peter said intensely to Gerard, and then receiving a nod, questioningly to Timonthy and Paris.
Timonthy did not know what to expect but he allowed himself to be guided by Gerard. If Gerard believed this experiment would be alright he trusted that it would be, although he wasn’t totally sure where his loyalties rested. Was Gerard in on the act, like a mind reader’s stooge sat in the audience?
“Come on. We will walk to the hill,” Peter said cheerfully. “You’ll have to stay here Yan. We won’t be long.”
He walked away quickly before Yan had time to moan, and the other three scrambled up to follow him.
“So you are telling us you can travel to anywhere, at any time,” Paris shook her head, “and yet you still need to walk to this hill every time you do it?”
She sounded sceptical and Timonthy sympathised.
“It’s like a footballer who makes the sign of a cross before he takes a penalty or someone who salutes a magpie on the way to work. It doesn’t need to happen and the only effect is on the mind of the person involved but somehow it seems the right thing to do,” Peter said as he hurried along.
“And I’m starting to need the exercise which is a depressing thought but probably inevitable given the fact I don’t actually need to do anything at all.”
Now they were skirting the lakeside. In spite of his confusion and the tension about what the immediate future held Timonthy raised his head from the ground to look at the view across the water. He stopped in sudden surprise, “Oh!”
“What is it?” Gerard asked.
“Stolid’s over there,” Timonthy explained.
“He’s not there,” Peter said briefly without looking up. “Do you mean you can see him there? Is he laid out on a low flat island, only comforted by grass or do you see him on a bed in a summer house?”
That was a worrying question Timonthy decided but he was happy to answer the man,
“In the summer house obviously,” he blustered.
“And does the summer house have windows that face this way?” Peter asked with a look of speculation.
Timonthy looked again,
“No,” he hesitated.
“But you see him?”
“I saw him,” Timonthy said slowly questioning his own vision.
“There is more to you than meets the eye,” Peter said shaking his head. “But I don’t have time to speculate on that right now.”
He carried on walking shaking his head and Timonthy looked again at the island in the lake. This time he really couldn’t believe his eyes. Where he had seen the summer house complete with the distant figure of a disconsolate Stolid, now he saw only a flat empty island that was more of a sandbank with a hint of grass. He shook his head too and hurried along to find Gerard looking at him with a worried expression.
“I’m sorry,” he blurted. “I could have sworn I saw him.”
“I expect you did,” Gerard said lugubriously. “Peter seemed to know he might be in a summer house. I expect he was here but in the future some time. I don’t know why you were able to see him though.”
Timonthy could tell that Gerard was repressing what he wanted to say. He was probably wondering where he stood in this new world in which Stolid was free to love again, and Timonthy was having visions of him. Such visions too. He hadn’t said too much but the Stolid in the summerhouse was a different man to the one he had met here this morning. Recognisable still but greatly improved. He looked like a man who had had nothing to do for three months but to dedicate himself to working out and looking good. Somehow he had even subtly changed his face and lost a few years. Lying there, wet and languid, he could have been a model in an inexplicable perfume advert or the perfect enticement for an ancient god to visit.
Timonthy could almost feel his ears colour as he thought this. He felt it was wrong but how could it be, to appreciate the masculine form in perfect condition. Then he wondered through his misery if Stolid appeared in front of him looking like that and said that he wanted him, what would he do.