The Inklings: Chapter 26

It was only when D’arby got off the bus that he realized that the town he was supposed to meet Ark in was quite large and that he should have organized a specific place to meet him at. D’arby decided to wait at the bus stop for a while, in case Ark was on his way there, but when an hour had passed D’arby couldn’t wait anymore. His bladder was about to burst and he was tired, hungry and a bit itchy.

D’arby walked along the main street, looking for a place that might have either a toilet or be somewhere where Ark might hang out while waiting for a bus. As he passed a small supermarket D’arby noticed a familiar face – Jinabu’s husband Andrew was buying groceries. If D’arby hadn’t been in need of help he might have hidden from Andrew, but instead he just stood there and waited for Andrew to notice him.

“There you are!” said Andrew. He seemed happy to see D’arby and so D’arby couldn’t help giving him a smile even though he was disappointed that Andrew had found Jinabu so quickly. Andrew explained to D’arby that he was supposed to be picking him up instead of Ark, but that he didn’t know where the bus stop was or when the bus was going to arrive and so had decided to do some shopping and hope that D’arby would recognize his car. D’arby didn’t really want to hear explanations, he just wanted to know where the public toilets were, and fortunately Andrew knew.

The car trip from the town to “the farm” was a bit uncomfortable. Andrew tried a few times to start a conversation but D’arby didn’t make enough effort for it to develop into anything. D’arby thought that Andrew looked a bit strange, as if he couldn’t decide whether he should be delighted at having a healthy baby boy or whether he should be wallowing in self pity over the way that Jinabu ran off and had the baby by the side of the road.

When D’arby and Andrew arrived Jinabu seemed happier to see the groceries than either of them. She was tired and very hungry and it was dinner time. D’arby held the baby for a little while, but the baby soon started to cry and Jinabu had to take him back. The baby still hadn’t been named because Andrew and Jinabu couldn’t agree on a name.

Andrew and D’arby worked together to cook some dinner by candlelight. Andrew struggled a bit with Ark’s limited kitchen facilities, but D’arby was pleasantly surprised. There was running water at the sink and the two-burner gas camping stove was just as effective as what he was used to using at home. There were even two sharp knives and two cutting boards, which meant that he and Andrew could both chop veggies at the same time.

Andrew held the baby while Jinabu and D’arby had dinner. Ark was still down at “the workshop”, which, as well as really being a workshop, was the farm meeting place. The workshop had electricity connected and so it was where the community home brew fridge was kept. It was also the only place you could have a hot shower.

After dinner Andrew kindly took D’arby on a torch-lit walk to the workshop. It was not an easy walk in the dark and D’arby wouldn’t have bothered having a shower if he hadn’t felt so grimy and itchy.

At the workshop Ark and three other men were sitting around chatting, drinking beer and pretending to be carving some wooden lettering into signs. Andrew waited for D’arby to have a shower, but didn’t join the other people in the workshop. Instead he sat outside getting bitten by mosquitoes. Andrew knew nobody there liked him, and he didn’t like anyone else there very much either. He planned to stick as close as possible to D’arby while D’arby was there. Andrew hoped that D’arby might help him convince Jinabu to come home, and soon!

D’arby felt much better after his shower. The itchiness went away and he began to feel quite comfortable. Andrew had made up a bed for D’arby, and had placed brand new toothbrush on the pillow (in his haste to find a toilet D’arby had forgotten to buy one when they were in town and he wondered how Andrew had anticipated that he would need a toothbrush). D’arby had his own room and the bed had a mosquito net. Jinabu, Andrew and the baby were sleeping in the other bedroom and Ark had moved into the caravan near the house. D’arby listened to the sound of frogs croaking as he fell asleep.

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