Chapter 4 ~ 39.623119, -107.635353

It was late evening and Archibald was roaming the house like it was his own. Cassy was already in bed and Mr. Hawtrey was having a night cap with Jonah in the kitchen. Jonah knew exactly what paper Mr. Hawtrey was talking about. He had actually done some research on it.

At first Jonah had thought it was some sort of alphabetic code, but he then quickly figured it out that they were coordinates for somewhere in Colorado.

Mr. Hawtrey opened the folded paper carefully. Long years had passed since he last wrote it for safekeeping. Mr. Hawtrey had liked his drink back in the day, you see, and sometimes despair took the best of him. Pieces of his life were written down in folded pieces of paper in his house and some with family; just in case.

There they were, those coordinates he had written. 39.623119, -107.635353. Neat calligraphy, slightly tilting to the right. Just as he remembered it.

-I am guessing you know what these are- Mr. Hawtrey asked Jonah

-I know they are coordinates for somewhere in Colorado

-Right. You ever been there?

-No, too far and life never took me that way. Cat likes the beach so we usually head over to Florida or so. Cassy likes the Summer Camps there too and I get to get all sunburnt every time!

-I suppose you wouldn’t like to keep an old man company?

Jonah actually wanted very much. But that would mean unplanned holidays which he really couldn’t take. Cat would be mad because that meant that in August they would have to either cut their two weeks short or she would have to go by herself. Cassy would almost plead to go with them. But a break! It was like a sign. Work had been giving him too much time to rethink his life and although it was good, was he everything he could be? Certainly nobody’s life could be all that it ought to be. Jonah felt a little stuck. Not because he didn’t love Catherine. She was the reason he always wanted to come home to. Catherine always stood by his side and together they had created a beautiful life. And Cassy… she was his a reason for living herself. So smart. So pretty, like her mother. She did have the best from them. But still life had become a very big routine and as comforting as it was, it also leaves one itching for something out of the ordinary to happen. Maybe this was it. A little road trip in the sun, in the car he loved to drive. Even if nothing came out of it, it would just be a different day to enjoy. And what were two days off work? He could even call in sick!

-Mr. Hawtrey, how does Thursday sound to you?

-Ah Jonah, Thursday is my favourite day of the week! If you don’t mind me staying for another day or so, it would be lovely and I would be very grateful.

-That is no problem at all. But tell me, what will we be looking for over there?

-Nothing of material value I can tell you. I just left something there long time ago and I just would like to have it back.

___________________””____________________

-Cat, it is just for the weekend. I will be here Sunday night.

-But I already told mum we are going for lunch on Saturday.

-She won’t mind just  once. I will be back as soon as possible.

-What is there in Colorado anyway that your teacher needs you to babysit him for?

-To be honest, I am not too sure. I think it might be a part of his past he didn’t face back then.

-Uhhh, like an illegal family? Maybe he killed someone! He was there for the war, you know?

-Don’t be silly, darling. Whatever it is, I am sending you a picture whenever I can.

-Thanks. And here, I put there an extra pair of underwear just in case.

-Ah-ah. Very funny.

___________________””_________________________

-But daddy, why can’t I go with you?

-You will need to take care of Archie while Mr. Hawtrey and I are away, and you know how your mother is around animals.

-Ahem! – intervened Mr. Hawtrey – I am very sorry dear Cassy, but Archibald will also be going with us. I am sorry Jonah, but I cannot leave him behind, he would be driving Cassy and poor Catherine crazy meowing around the house. No, no, he is coming with us.

-Well then, that is settled, I guess.

Cassy’s eyes were wide open and for a moment Jonah thought she might cry. With a sniff she turned to the one eyed cat and whispered good luck to him. She then walked back to her dad, all business just like Catherine and asked if they needed some pop tarts for the ride.

Jonah couldn’t wait for Wednesday to be over at the office. He must be very sad, he thought, to be excited about this trip with an old man. But he wanted it to be good. And relaxing and that he would return to work recharged and thankful for the life he had here at home.

On Thursday morning the car was packed with bags and lunches and lots of water.

Jonah said goodbye to Catherine when she left for work -she always took Cassy to school while he picked her up- and kissed a very sleepy Cassy before going back to bed and try to sleep the next hour or so when he had to get up.

Archibald woke Mr. Hawtrey that day with a very mournful meow. He knows he will be stuck in the car again, Mr Hawtrey acknowledged.

-Here Archie, lets have some food and then get ready.

Archibald looked at him like that was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard in all his 5 lives.

-Are you ready, Professor?

-Oh quite so! I am sorry to drag you all the way away from home, but hopefully the weather will hold and we can appreciate the views.

They ate while reading the newspapers and Jonah could see Mr. Hawtrey rolling the folded paper through his fingers.

Jonah had looked up the address last Tuesday and had already set the Sat Nav  directions there.

-Aright Jonah, let’s go.

-Let’s go, Professor. Is Archie ok?

-Oh yes, he just dreads car rides. Don’t mind him. I gave him a little something to keep him comfortable.

Looking at Archibald, Jonah wondered if it was one of Mr. Hawtreys sleeping pills and laughing to himself they drove off.

 

______________________________________

Poor Archie back strapped to the car again.

 

Claudia x

Advertisements

Chapter Three ~ Reunion

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?

Claudia x