September 8, 2022

The Mystery of Johnathon

By aarondkey

That made Timonthy think: it must be a trick or Johnathon must have told Stolid in some unguarded moment.

“Stolid doesn’t know. You can ask him if you can find him,” Koa’s voice was just a trace on the wind now. Or Lizzie must have told Koa. Timonthy could imagine Koa wheedling secrets from her just to impress him with the ludicrous story.

It was odd though that he had managed to pick something that Stolid was unlikely to have known and shared with him: as if he knew, as if he really was Johnathon, but no, he must not start going down that route.

Then he remembered Stolid’s assertion that he would not see the obvious and Johnathon’s invitation to believe. He tried to open his mind, perhaps it was possible.

Was it beyond the realms of belief that Johnathon had faked his own death, found a corpse that looked like him, had plastic surgery, and found some way of making his body look twenty years younger? He wished that last was true and someone would share the secret with him.

Why though would he have done it? Johnathon didn’t have debtors, he didn’t believe he had any secret vices, no criminal past.

He could only think of one reason – to get rid of Stolid without hurting his feelings and yet ‘Koa’ was still with him.

He couldn’t contemplate the alternative thought: to get rid of Lizzie, him and Paris, even at the expense of almost breaking Stolid’s heart. Yes Johnathon had been a little heedless, a little selfish but not to that degree.

So it was improbable but almost possible. That was a start in the process of opening his mind. It was either that or Stolid was mad and Koa a clever charlatan.

He saw the others he had left behind walking towards him then. Lizzie and Elena were talking. Paris and Yan were scampering around as if playing a game and Gerard was trailing a little behind, trying too hard to look like he hadn’t a care in the world.

“Did you find Stolid?” Elena asked as they came closer.

“Briefly,” Timonthy considered his answer. “He was upset. I didn’t get much out of him before he ran off. Did you see him coming back?”

Elena shook her head. “He probably went over the bridge. That’s one of his favourite places.”

Timonthy followed her gaze to a bridge he must have walked over when they first arrived but without really noticing it in the landscape in spite of its obviousness. It was a low lying grey stone bridge with a path made of grass as if the land had never ended.

On the other side was a patch of land between the river and the lake with a tree-lined mound dominating. The lawn around it was cut in a complicated spiral pattern like a path in a Japanese garden leading a circuitous route to the top.

She looked back and raised her eyebrows at him, questioningly.

“Did you know that Stolid believes your doctor to be an old friend who died?” he asked, annoyed by the carelessness of her expression.

“Yes I know,” Elena murmured comfortably.

“Does he really think that Koa is Johnathon?” Lizzie interjected shocked.

“Koa told me that. He says that it’s nothing to worry about. Just a common delusion in people who have experienced grief and that it will wear off with no consequences,” Elena said. Timonthy stared at her with disbelief, his lips tightly pressed together as if he was afraid of what words might escape.

“Stolid is an adult capable of looking after himself and I’m quite sure he is not mad,” Elena said with a hint of petulance, “but it sounds like we should not rely upon him for your entertainment today.”

“I am happy to amuse myself,” Timonthy said shortly.

“Yan and I had plans, if you are happy to spare him for a few hours,” Paris said. Elena looked questioningly at Lizzie who blushed slightly. Timonthy knew she was feeling left out of things and he felt slightly guilty. He knew she wouldn’t want to spend the day with Gerard and him, or even with Yan and Paris.

He shouldn’t be forced to choose between Gerard and Lizzie, and she had coped without him for four years. It was just that harsh memory of feeling like a child on the sidelines unwanted by either team that attacked her even at her age.

“You could come with me to see if we can find something enjoyable to do?” Elena said kindly. Eventually they all went their separate ways.

Elena said with a parting look back, “Don’t forget, Paris, if Yan gives you any trouble send him to Joseph. He lives up the stairs to the left of the main archway. I hope you have a good time.”

Gerard stood next to Timonthy as they watched the others walk away. “Was that you losing your temper?” Gerard asked with a grin of mischief. “I think it was,” Timothy considered.

“Thank God you don’t do it very often. So, how are you planning to amuse yourself? It had better be something good if you want Elena to feel aggrieved.”

“I thought we could try and find Stolid,” Timonthy suggested. Gerard looked at him solemnly without speaking.

Then he took a deep breath to say, “I’m inclined to agree with Elena, that Stolid is an adult capable of sorting his love life out without help. I assume it was his love life that was causing him grief and unless you were planning to step into the breach I don’t think it would help if you were to get involved.”

“Let’s go and see what we can do with the car,” Timonthy suggested taking the hint. He considered defending himself then decided to let it lie.

He couldn’t imagine that Gerard really thought he would prefer Stolid to him. It was just a warning shot.

Grassed bridge