|One of Adrian's recent paintings of an imaginary shoreline with New Island in the background.|
"Sugar, milk?" asked Adrian.
"Oh, yes. Thanks."
They stirred their tea. Osborne was not disturbed. The faint sound of waves came in through a window in the back, and a soft breeze drifted through the gallery bringing in a hint of eucalyptus.
"Well. Here we are," said Adrian brightly. "I was wondering about you ever since I heard from Ms. Mullen at Tourism. She said you are from the USA...such a long way to come from, no? And how was your trip, may I ask?"
"Oh, um, long...but okay. I made all my flights, and then I caught the boat from Fremantle with no problem. I enjoyed the train ride here too."
Alan looked around at the art everywhere, then back at Adrian. "I, uh, was just wondering... After seeing your work, why didn't they ask you to illustrate their travel book? I mean, I'm grateful for the job, but it looks like your landscapes would look just fine there, and you must know this place well."
Adrian looked out the window for a moment, and then he replied, "Well, they did ask me a few months ago, but we couldn't agree on a price. I offered to let them use some of my older paintings for their book - I've done quite a few - but they insisted on depictions of very specific locations, and I just don't have the time to traipse all over this island!"
"Alan, commiserating, "Yes, I'm getting the feeling it's much bigger than I thought..."
"However, I must say I was surprised when they hired you to come all the way here for this...they paid your way, right?" And then I heard from a friend of mine at Guv'ment Hill that Ms. Mullen was very impressed by a drawing you did of her old house north of Putney. She was even a bit spooked by how accurately you captured it some 40 years ago, and she has wanted you here ever since."
Adrian paused. "Ahh, but I shouldn't pry..." and then he took a long sip of his tea.
"Oh, that's okay," said Alan. "Yes, they paid for my tickets and gave me the apartment, but I really have no idea of exactly what pictures these people want. You see, I was having these strange dreams back home, and then I made drawings from some of them, and I saw the one you're talking about. But I really don't know anything about this place, or even where I should go to draw the pictures! I feel I might have made a mistake!"
And then Alan abruptly stood up from his chair, his eyes wide and seeing nothing, as if he were about to have a fit! Osborne bolted and scuttled out the front door. Alan finally let out a long sighing breath, shrugged, and then sat down again. Adrian stared at him...
"My apologies, Adrian. Ah, everything seemed to be going just fine, and then I thought I would explode, I'm so unsure about what I'm doing here, and, and..." He slowly leaned forward, his face in his hands. Then he muttered, "... and I need art supplies."
"Oh, ah, well...first, are you okay?" Adrian asked, a bit concerned.
Alan nodded, "Yeah, I think so. I'm just confused, and tired...and this whole trip suddenly seems so unreal."
"Well, um, yes, I can imagine. I've heard about that disorienting event in Fremantle where travelers must step over the threshold to enter the Rudyard office. People who have just arrived can be rattled for quite some time. You'll be fine after a good night's sleep.
"And by the way, you'll find art supplies in Skegness, at the Dromedary Booksellers and Stationers. You'll enjoy the place.
Alan nodded as he sipped his tea, and seemed to have regained a sense of calm.
"But for now, let me show you your new home!"