Tuesday, February 10, 2015

13: The Plakaford


Alan's lodgings, the Plakaford Hotel, were on a narrow side street off the Cold Water Channel. Alan felt a southern European influence in the look of these older buildings. The streets were mostly paved with brick or stone, liberally patched with concrete or sometimes asphalt. He loved the flowering vines and all the potted plants around his hotel, and the place itself looked quite inviting.

"Welcome to our hotel, Mrs. Plakaford said as Alan checked in. "We were expecting you."  Alan followed her up the stairs to a small room with a nice view over the outdoor cafe. "The room has a lavoratory, and the toilet is just down the hall and to the left. We serve coffee at 6:30, and breakfast at seven in our breakfast room, and I trust you will join us."  "Oh, yes," Alan said, "that would be wonderful."

Alan stood alone a minute in his room, the sun streaming in the window, and he realized, "Whoa, I'm really here aren't I?"

He then changed into his walking sandals and then took a stroll around the neighborhood, now cast in the pleasant shadows of a waning afternoon. He was finally on his own - wandering! He found that most of the shops, lodgings and restaurants were along a not-very-wide street called Broadway. In a small cafe near the main library, he found some reassuringly familiar dishes on the menu - and ordered a tuna sandwich and a cup of oolong tea. He found a well-thumbed newspaper, The Putney Times, and sat down at a table. The news was from all over New Island, with only one international story, about the Malaysian jetliner that went missing near here last March. The story described the pain of the families who had lost relatives on board, and then stated the the old airport at Vernon will continue to keep its runway lights on, just in case...

The tuna was grilled, served with lettuce and mayo on toasted home-made bread. It was so delicious he seemed to devour it in two bites! The bread, made from brown rice flour, was surprisingly light and fresh. He went back for a scone and another cup of tea, and sat down again and looked around at the other customers. They were having coffee and chatting. Several women and a few couples spoke quietly, giving each other some intimate looks, tweaking Alan's feeling of aloneness. He imagined they were all madly in love with each other. He could start a conversation with the two women closest to his table, but he felt very, uh, foreign, he didn't want to intrude, and he couldn't think of anything to say anyway.

It was getting late. Alan finished his tea and took his scone back to the Plakaford.