Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Search

“It was odd how well he knew me”, muttered Joe as he pulled the faded khaki cap low over his eyes and hurried from the dimly-lit bar, pausing momentarily at the door to check he wasn’t being followed. His heart rate slowed, and the fine veil of perspiration that covered his brow evaporated by the time he reached his vehicle.

Behind the bar of ‘The Five Star’ Lucinda was laughing as she poured a Scotch, sliding it along to the two black leather-clad motorcyclists leaning nonchalantly on the polished oak counter.

“Strange chap that?” Lucinda tossed the words into the smoky atmosphere and without waiting for a reply, turned her attention towards the couple who had just walked in.

Mike and Bobby tipped back their drinks. After riding several hundred miles across barren countryside, the steep hills offering only limited protection from the howling winds that picked up debris and hurtled it meters from where it had been originally tossed from car windows, they were pleased to stretch out and relax. It had been a long day and a decent meal was next on the agenda.

“Lucinda”, called Mike. “What’s the food like in this place?”

Lucinda took the menu across and recommended the steak, with mushrooms and eggs. Mike and Bobby ordered and wandered over to a table near the window. Outside, streetlights cast a muted golden glow onto the pavement and cars, their headlights flashing like torches, sped by. Mike brought a faded photo from his wallet and after wiping the table with his sleeve, carefully laid the crinkled black and white picture out in front of them pressing out the worst of the creases.

“Bobby, do you reckon we will ever find him?” Mike asked, in an anxious voice.

“Of course Mike”, replied Bobby. “It’s a dead cert! There must be someone who knows the old man, even if it has been twenty years since he left.”

“You know what I reckon?” said Mike. He continued, “I reckon it was that old boy with that funny cap. He had a vague familiarity.”

Bobby looked doubtful. That old guy shuffled along and looked scared of the world. Surely that couldn’t be him! But this was Mike’s mission, so he would play along.

“Ya reckon?” he asked. “I don’t think you’re right! That guy was old. He must be seventy if a day! The chap in this photo won’t be more than 50.”

“Yeah” replied Mike, but I am not sure. Looks can be deceiving. Hey Lucinda”, he roared, “Who was that old guy in here before? The one we were asking where Grove Place is?”

Lucinda thought long before she replied that the old guy was Joe Wilson who came into town weekly to buy groceries and a few farming supplies. “He’s not such a bad old chap”, she said, “just a bit of a recluse. And by the way, I don’t know of a farm called Grove Place around here. I only know of The Willow Grove. Are you sure you are in the right area?”

“Joe Wilson?” Mike Wilson whispered the name. “Bobby we have found him! We have found my Dad! No wonder I found him easy to talk with! He’s my Dad!

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