Mr. Hawtrey adjusted his bag and got ready to leave the bus. Sixteen hours on a bus was not for him anymore. And poor Archibald, having to go to unknown places… the poor cat was definitely car sick. Mr. Hawtrey patted the cat carrier and Archibald meowed weakly.
– Don’t worry Archie, we will be there soon.
Archibald huffed, tired of hearing those words but not being able to leave his carrier.
When the bus pulled over at the station Mr. Hawtrey picked his bag and Archibald’s bag and slowly made his way out of the bus. ‘We are here now, Archie. Open your eyes, you will be able to stand soon enough’.
Mr. Hawtrey had but enough time to make a full circle around the waiting seats before he saw Jonah pulling over.
– Professor, Professor!
Jonah parked the car and gave Mr. Hawtrey a heartfelt hug. Pleasantries were exchanged and soon Mr. Hawtrey was sitting on the front seat and Archibald was curled on Cassy’s lap purring like the happy kitten he was.
Mr. Hawtrey looked much like Jonah remembered. Still dressed with a shirt and a pullover, but now he had allowed himself some jeans as opposed to the khakis he used to wear.
His hair had gone completely grey but still curled at the sides. He had changed glasses and funnily enough, they were now thinner than when he was teaching.
On the other seat, Mr. Hawtrey was doing pretty much the same with Jonah. The boy had put on some weight and lost some hair, but you could still say he had brown hair. He now had a small stubble that could almost be called beard. If Mr. Hawtrey had a say on it, he would tell Jonah to shave it properly – you either had a beard or you didn’t.
Cassy, Jonah’s daughter was a delight. She had lighter brown hair than Jonah and was petting Archibald like a pro.
– She is quite smart you know? – Jonah interrupted his thoughts. Yes, you would think so about your offspring, Mr. Hawtrey concluded. – She loves puzzles and is very creative in solving them. She loves to count and you cannot cheat her on cards.
– Oh? Maybe I should play with her sometime. Have you taught her chess?
– Catherine didn’t think it was appropriate because of her age, but she handles it better than Carson did back in Uni.
Ah, Carson was an old student. Mr. Hawtrey remembered him, his keychain was a chess queen. He often left it and lost it basically everywhere he went. Brilliant boy, but not so good with keeping track of his things.
– Carson actually is working in the same company, you know?
Jonah kept going updating briefly Mr. Hawtrey on what his fellow students were currently doing. Mr. Hawtrey found it curious, Jonah always seemed a bit like a loner in school, how is it that he kept tabs on so many people? This made Mr. Hawtrey think that maybe he had misread the boy. He was focused alright, but surely he must have had a social life outside the classroom.
It was mid-afternoon when the car parked by a yellow house on a quiet road. Mr. Hawtrey could see through the windows the woman he had to assume it was Jonah’s wife. Just as the car stopped, Catherine came to the door to welcome them and help Mr. Hawtrey get settled.
– You can stay in Cassy’s room, and as long as Archibald doesn’t mind dogs, the neighbour’s shouldn’t be a problem. Did you have a good journey?
No, not really. His legs were stiff and his knees hurt from being stuck on that bus. He was tired and didn’t take a nap like he had intended to
– Very pleasant, thank you. Just a tad too long for my age, I guess. You have a lovely house.
It actually was a very nice place. Catherine must love yellow because splashes of it where everywhere. And according to Mr. Hawtrey’s calculations, the sun would be hitting the kitchen in the morning and in the afternoon the living room. How cheerful!
Mr. Hawtrey was shown to his room. Unlike Catherine, Cassy liked purple. Purple curtains, purple bed throws. Purple lamps. Purple flowers on the wall and pillows.
– Mr. Hawtrey, I have purple bedsheets but mummy said you would prefer the white ones. But if you want you can have one of my pillows.
– That is fantastic Cassy. If I need I will let you know. I heard you are a great chess player.
– I am ok. Daddy likes to play it after dinner. Sometimes I win. Do you play? Maybe tonight I could play with you instead. I think mummy is making chicken roast. How old is Archibald? I think he likes me.
In all fairness, Archibald liked pretty much everyone as long as they petted him between the years and gave him food. Cats were supposed to be individual and little gods. But poor one eyed Archie liked people. Mr. Hawtrey often thought he had the soul of a dog. Which turned out good for Mr. Hawtrey. Archibald never failed to keep company although he could have a bit of a snobbish complex if ignored for too long.
Mr. Hawtrey encouraged Archibald to go down the stairs and after some bumps and stumbles on unfamiliar territory, they both made it downstairs.
Catherine was busy setting the table and making the last arrangements while Jonah was looking at some wine.
– I think this red will go nicely with the roast. – Jonah announced.
The four of them gathered around the table taking their seats. There was even a spot for Archibald by the kitchen door.
– You have a delightful family, Jonah. Well done.
– Thank you, I like them – Jonah winked at both wife and daughter. Cassy giggled while playing the peas she was definitely not going to eat. Catherine smiled, quite proudly, if Mr. Hawtrey could say so.
– So Catherine, where did you meet Jonah here?
– Well, I saw him first and thought he was crazy – always a great start thought Mr. Hawtrey – He was at the laundrette and was talking to himself wearing a shirt that for sure should have been included in the wash.
– She thought I was hilarious – obviously a story they had recounted before.
– I thought you were crazy. He didn’t notice me until I “accidentally” dropped the washing powder. He thought it was because I thought he was good looking, but in all honesty, I just didn’t want to be alone with someone talking to themselves for an hour.
Both Jonah and Catherine talked about how they started meeting and eventually moved in and how Cassy had been a blessing. Mr. Hawtrey liked Catherine. She sounded like a good match for Jonah. Cassy was a funny girl, she kept feeding peas to Archibald – who actually did not like them and kept taking them somewhere towards the kitchen.
Mr. Hawtrey loved dinner occasions. He was able to listen while enjoying food. He could not wait to see if Jonah had kept the numbers he had given him. At the end of the day, although he enjoyed spending time with Jonah and his family, he was ready for a little adventure.
How do you like Archie?