May 12, 2022

Timon of Bath

By aarondkey

Almost there and it’s raining

“No we didn’t: just a quick stop to swop drivers. I’ll phone Will up and suggest it,” Paris said. “Then we can get an update on how long we’ve got.”

She had that annoying half a conversation and put her phone down.

“At least another hour, Peter says, so he’s happy to stop for a quick drink. We’re getting off this road in about two miles. He’ll turn off when he sees somewhere.”

They carried on driving until suddenly Lizzie gave a sigh of relief.

“Good, he’s turning off. Oh god, where’s he going now?”

They followed the van down an isolated road for a few yards until they came to another hotel.

“He likes his hotels, doesn’t he?” Lizzie said.

“To be fair we haven’t seen any alternative for ages,” Paris said which was true. The last services had been miles back before Timonthy had voiced his desire for coffee.

This hotel was a more modest affair than the one they had set off from in the morning but they were able to get a decent coffee quickly and return re-invigorated to the cars.

“I’ll drive again, shall I?” Paris asked. Lizzie nodded.

“I’m getting stiff from sitting in the same position. Why anyone would volunteer to do this journey more than once, I don’t understand. Definitely an adventure but uncomfortable”

She sniffed and said accusingly to Gerard.

“I don’t understand how Elena managed all that way. Because you and Will can’t drive can you?”

“No, we’ve never had chance to learn and even if we did I don’t think we would cope with the traffic or the complicated roads of this journey after practising on our quiet roads. She is a remarkable woman,” Gerard settled for saying.

There was more to look at now they had left the motorway. Timonthy could not help noticing that Gerard was looking left and right with the excitement of a child at Christmas time.

It was almost as though he had never driven this way before, Timonthy found himself thinking.

Gerard had said that he was always asleep at this point in the journey which seemed a bit unlikely but perhaps they had always set off in the dark before. That would probably explain it.

He knew they were definitely heading in the right direction for the station that Stolid had travelled to. He had checked it on his phone map.

They got back onto motorway and over the Forth Road Bridge. Now even Timonthy was finding the view fascinating. He had spent a lifetime hearing about the bridge without even realising there were two of them.

Crossing the bridge was like an escape from the built-up area, like crossing the bridge in the story with the three Billy Goats to find greener grass but the motorway continued with boring predictability on and on.

Timonthy wasn’t regretting the journey but he was beginning to feel like a child who wanted to ask, ‘are we there yet?’

At last they were back off the motorway. Timonthy remembered the time he had tried to find the garden on the computer, flying over the landscape.  It was still not looking like his imagination had made it but as the minutes passed it began to look flatter, tree-less and more uninhabited.

Then it started to rain, although a more accurate description would have been sheets of water cascading onto them in waves. It seemed to come out of nowhere. An untroubled sky, a few white clouds in a pale blue setting suddenly transformed into a scene from a wet hell.

“It’s alright,” Gerard reassured him. “It’s always like this here but it won’t be raining when we get home.”

“How do you know it won’t, Gerard?” Lizzie asked curiously.

“It never rains when Peter’s awake, well known fact.”

Timonthy looked at him with an expression of disbelief.

“Well it’s a sort of joke,” Gerard explained hastily. “We say that no-one has ever seen it raining while Peter is there so when it’s raining we say it’s because he is asleep or he’s away. But he’s with us now so it won’t rain when we get home.  It’s a standing joke that if Peter ever saw the rain he wouldn’t know what had hit him.”

“Presumably he’s wondering that now,” Paris said with a laugh. “And fairly literally. How much longer Gerard?”

“It can’t be long. It’s usually dark when we leave so I’m not completely sure. Everything looks different in the daylight, although this rain is giving a good impression of night time.”

“I wonder if Elena will be there?” Lizzie wondered. She’s probably concerned that she doesn’t look smart enough, Timonthy thought.

“Yes, she should be back,” Gerard said. “Peter saw her last night.”

“What do you mean, he saw her?” Lizzie said, confused.

“I mean on the computer. You know pictures on the computer so you can talk to someone. I do not know how it works but it is like magic.”

Timonthy shut his eyes in sudden irritation. Already, he admonished himself! He was beginning to find faults instead of concentrating on the good things in other people and Gerard had so many good points.

He remembered that magic was just whatever you had no logical explanation for: which depending on your understanding of science varied from person to person. Gerard appeared to have a very limited understanding of science but that did not make him an unpleasant companion.