|Adrian's house originally had only two rooms. |
He built the one-story addition soon after he moved in.
When Alan returned from Skegness, he met Adrian at the gallery, dumped off his new purchases, and they walked up to Adrian's house...
It was easier to walk along the road, which didn't have any traffic, especially this late in the day. An evening train smoothly glided north, down the slope toward the bay, then another labored up the hill, heading south. Alan figured that's how everyone commutes around here, instead of driving.
Adrian lived in a modest wood-and-stone house on a sandy hill overlooking Putney Bay and the Hazelhurst ruins. From the terrace outside, Alan could see all the places he was poking around in the day before. Adrian offered Alan a glass of local Riesling, "from the Severn Valley," claimed Adrian. Then they relaxed while a chicken with carrots and baby potatoes and Adrian's own herbs was slow-roasting in a wood-fired oven. Ahhh, the aroma was mouth-watering!
Over supper, neither of them talked very much. The sun was setting over the ocean, the birds were quiet now, and the slightest breeze set off some wind chimes - enough going on to fill the moment. Adrian figured that Alan must have a lot on his mind, and decided to wait to see how their conversation might evolve.
Alan felt good after all the chicken and trimmings. Adrian offered ice cream and another glass of Riesling. Alan accepted, and then sat back, feeling quite relaxed.
Then he asked "Say Adrian, I can't help but wonder...have you ever been married, or had any kids?"
A thoughtful moment, then, "Ahhh, yes...well, I married young. I fell madly in love with Tatyana, who was born here but was Russian through and through. I met her during a long trip on the mail boat. She agreed to marry me, and we had a daughter, Christal. But then, back in '92, when our country became independent, Tatyana wanted to return to Odessa with her family. I just couldn't go, since my own family, the Dougal clan, is rooted here, and I couldn't see myself living in Ukraine! I still think of Tatya, even though she has long since remarried and has three other kids now. Christal writes to me sometimes, sends me news, and maybe some day she'll come for a visit. She's almost 30 now! I have a few other friends that I visit, though, and they sustain me. You?"
"Well, I was married once also. I met Barbara in California, when I was finishing up for my education degree. She and I were in the same program. We moved to Indiana because she has family there, and there were good teaching jobs then around Michigan City. We didn't have any children, but for about five years we seemed to get along fine, or at least okay. Eventually we broke up because she thought I was 'too quiet'. Actually, when we argued, I would sometimes clam up, which was the only way I knew how to fight back, and that would make her furious! Then later I met Michelle, and we were, I guess you'd say, dating, but we were not on great terms when I left. I'm pretty much on my own at this point..."
Adrian was quiet, then he said, "Well, I suppose this is good for your upcoming journey, yes? Though I think having a woman to come home to is, well, more desirable. For a while, I was hopeful that Mandrill, the woman who lived in your place, might be that kind of, um. mate." Adrian looked away, then took a long sip of his wine, and then declared, "I have found that the women on this island are very independently minded, so don't expect docility!"
Then he said, "That list of yours is going to keep you on the road for a long time, Alan, but there is always the chance you'll meet some interesting people along the way. And if you keep your eyes open, there might be someone special out there!"
This sentiment brought Carla to mind, but when Alan tried to fantasize what his next meeting with her might entail, his mind jumped to his friend Michelle, and such thoughts as, "What do I really want...?"