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And if you don’t want to read the previous chapters…
The story so far…
One afternoon our main character, Saul, had an unexpected and unexplained visitor. Over the coming weeks Saul was visited more times by this mystery man who claimed his name was also Saul. So far Saul has no knowledge of who this stranger with his name is. The most recent visit was while Saul was sleeping when the other left him a note.
It was a baking hot Saturday in the middle of June and Saul’s table top fan, his only source of air conditioning had stopped working. He guessed one of the cats had interfered with it at some point as at least two of them hated it. To try to stay a bit cooler he sat in the garden with a long glass of iced wine. He was pondering the mystery of his visitor and the most recent note.
“Not sure how much more of this heat I can take, Buttons, my friend,” he told his cat. “How can I think straight when I’m sweating like the proverbial?”
Finishing his drink he made a decision. “Right Buttons, jump off,” he told the cat, sweeping it off his lap, standing up. “I’m going to pop out for bit. I’m going to get a new fan.” He had also decided to take the bus as the air-conditioning on that would be so much more effective than that of his car, and if he happened to have a drink or two while out he wouldn’t be in trouble for driving under the influence.
He didn’t have to wait at the bus stop long before the bus came. He jumped on flashed his pass at the machine and took a seat with a sigh. The bus was icy cold, which was a welcome break from the heat outside. Saul knew the journey to the shopping centre well and settled down to watch the world passing by for the next twenty minutes or so.
As the bus passed through the quiet streets, occasionally stopping for one or two passengers, Saul stared into the shop windows, read the signs and pitied the people walking and/or working in this heat.
Just over halfway into the journey Saul saw one of his favourite haunts, The Hog’s Back, a pub that was privately owned, ‘a rarity in this day in age’ Saul mumbled to himself following his train of thought. Its frontage was faux-Tudor with the obligatory barrels and hanging baskets full of colourful flowers. As the bus drew level with the pub the door opened and someone headed out.
Saul gasped. “Saul!” he exclaimed. “What the…”
Before he had chance to do anything the bus had passed the pub, and even though Saul craned his neck backwards it was too late; the other had already disappeared, back into the pub Saul guessed. The next stop wasn’t too far away so he rang the bell and jumped up ready to get off and go find this other Saul.
As soon as the doors were half open Saul jumped off the bus and turned back the way it had come. In, this heat running wasn’t an option. As he had left the bus he felt the sweat prickle on his skin immediately. He started to walk at almost a running pace hoping to get to the pub in time to find his visitor.
There was no sign of the other Saul in the passageway beside the pub. Saul grabbed the brass handle of the swing door and brusquely pulled it open. The place was busy, customers enjoying the cool drinks in the air-conditioned bars. Saul carefully scanned the first bar; no sign. He passed through to the back bar and scanned that too. There was still no sign. Just as he decided to go to the bar and get himself a cool drink instead of frantically searching further he thought he caught a glimpse of his stranger leaving, either headed towards the Beer Garden or the toilets.
Once more Saul changed direction and headed towards of the Beer Garden himself. On the way he took a quick look in the mens’ toilet. There was just one man in there standing at the urinals with a satisfied look on his face. “You alright, mate?” he asked. “You look like you’ve seen a bloody ghost.” He laughed. Saul ignored the man, noticed the stalls were empty and continued towards the Beer Garden.
Leaving the cool of the pub was like getting slapped with a wet flannel yet again. The Beer Garden was relatively empty, apart from a couple of brave smokers. Saul scanned the place in seconds and knew he had missed the other Saul again. He was disappointed, but told himself that perhaps he had been wrong about what he had seen from the bus. The person leaving the pub could have been anyone. He reminded himself that he was slightly short sighted and often missed things.
Saul went back inside the pub and consoled himself with a long cool drink, as his mind whirred through a wild list of fantasies about who this man was and why he was in Saul’s life. His original shopping mission was forgotten.