The Inklings: Chapter 42

To read the story from the beginning go here.

D’arby’s Christmas break was very productive. By the time he got back he had filled a whole notebook with ideas and plans for saving the world. D’arby was keen to show John his notebook and discuss some of the ideas and so he rushed home from the train station, hoping that John would still be awake.

Of course John was still awake. He’d been missing D’arby and couldn’t wait for his return. Spending Christmas with his family had made John more passionate than ever about doing “something”. He had been daydreaming about the next family Christmas, where it would be him, not Tim, who everyone was impressed with. John also couldn’t wait to show D’arby all the interesting gadgets that Tim had given him.

John boiled the kettle and put bread in the toaster as soon as D’arby came in the door. Normally D’arby just wanted to have a shower and go to bed after such a long trip, but tonight he started going through his bag looking for his special note book as soon as he got in the door. Before D’arby could find his notebook John had brought him toast, chamomile tea and a handful of tiny electronic things to look at.

“Oh thanks!” said D’arby in an appreciative tone. “I’m just looking for my notebook. I want to show you some of my new ideas” said D’arby and he began taking everything out of his bag so he could find the notebook, but after every pocket of the bag was empty the notebook still hadn’t appeared. D’arby let out a few swear words when he had to conclude that he must have left his precious ideas behind on the train.

“Don’t worry” said John. “You’ll remember them” but D’arby was so tired he couldn’t remember anything he’d written and was sure that something really good would be lost forever.

“Oh, did you have your name on the book?” asked John. “You could call the lost property number and see if they found your notebook” suggested John. D’arby hadn’t written his name on the book, but decided he’d call in the morning anyway. He wasn’t hopeful though, and went to have a shower without eating his toast or drinking his chamomile tea.

John sadly unfolded the sofa bed and tried to sleep. He decided he’d cheer D’arby up in the morning by taking him to a café for breakfast.

John’s plan to make D’arby happy with a café breakfast didn’t get off to a good start because D’arby’s favourite café was closed until the middle of January. They reluctantly decided to try their luck with the place a few doors down instead. John and D’arby sat inside, but right near the large front window that was wide open. After they had ordered their breakfasts they eavesdropped on the conversation of the people at the table directly outside the window. The two men at the outside table were dressed suitably for the café, which was the most expensive in the area and either was, or successfully pretended to be, the place where important people had their coffees – or at least the place where the most high maintenance people had their coffees. The men outside looked like they had just come out of a beauty salon. Even John and D’arby could tell that their neighbours were wearing fake tans, had had their eyebrows waxed and their teeth whitened. Their hairstyles were more ambitious than anything John or D’arby would ever contemplate and their clothes looked so new that John couldn’t believe they had ever been worn before. John was particularly amazed by the bright whiteness of the T-shirt of the man on the left. John’s whites were never that bright.

The man on the right wore a black T-shirt with the name of an expensive brand written across the front in sparkly gold letters. The man in the white T-shirt had been explaining how the council had rejected his development application because it exceeded height restrictions and the man in the black T-shirt responded “So? What you gonna do? You aren’t going to leave it at that are you? Don’t be a pussy! Tell them who your Dad is. Take the Mayor out to dinner and get him drunk” and as he said this he took the last piece of toast from his friend’s plate.

“Hey! I was going to eat that!” said white T-shirt man.

“The quick and the dead man, the quick and the dead” replied black T-shirt man.

Then a man dressed in a calf-length, off-white cotton robe walked up to the outside table. He had shoulder length brown hair and a neat beard. His robe was accessorized with a faded, geometrically patterned woven bag (worn diagonally across his body) and he wore sandals on his hairy feet.

“Gentleman” said the man in the off-white robe. “You don’t need to pretend to be loved and valued. You don’t need to preen and build tall buildings. Those things hinder you rather than help you in the quest for the good life. If you want to be happy you should work on relationships, not appearances.

Both men looked angry by the time the robed man had finished speaking but the man in the black was the quickest to respond.

“Fuck off! Have you had a look at your appearance lately? And what are you doing wearing sandals when your feet are in that condition?”

John, D’arby and the robed man all looked down at the robed man’s feet, which as well as being hairy had dirty toe nails that could do with a trim.

“So do you get many chicks in that outfit?” asked white T-shirt man and he and his friend started laughing.

“Get many chicks?” asked the robed man. “I don’t want to ‘get chicks’ like women are some sort of purchase. Wouldn’t you deep down like to have a proper relationship with a woman – one with mutual respect?”

“Oh piss off” said black T-shirt man and he started playing with his phone.

The robed man shrugged his shoulders and walked off with a slight giggle. When he was about 10 metres down the street he stopped and took a red notebook out of his bag. While he was leafing through the notebook D’arby and John could hear him say to himself “That man really needs a hug. Somebody give him a hug.”

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