A Good Runner: Part Eighteen

This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 757 words.

After arranging for his tea-chests of books and a few bulky possessions to be taken to his parents’ home by a local removal company, Adrian packed his clothes into a suitcase, and said goodbye to his rented room. Stopping at the bank, he drew out a large part of his savings, exchanging most of it for French Francs and traveller’s cheques. Then he headed east, to Sally’s parental home in Dartford, Kent. Just after three that afternoon, he eventually found the house on a sprawling council estate, where every house looked depressingly identical.

The man who opened the door was wearing a British Rail uniform. Adrian was polite and chirpy. “Mister Brooks? I have come to collect Sally. We are off to France, as I expect she has told you”. The reply left him confused. “France? I don’t know anything about France. Sally isn’t here. She left a few days ago. Some student friends of hers picked her up in one of those Volksagen camper van thingys. I would ask you in, but I have to go on shift soon, and my wife isn’t home from her job until seven”. Adrian was flummoxed, to say the least.

“Did she say when she might be back? We had plans to leave today or tomorrow for France. It was all arranged before she left Oxford”. The man shook his head. “Sorry, she doesn’t say much to me, tends to do her own thing. Why don’t you come back tomorrow and speak to my wife? She isn’t working then, and Sally usually tells her what she’s up to. You will have to find somewhere to stay I suppose? Try the Royal Victoria and Bull, in the High Street in town. They have rooms above the pub. I’m going to have to go to work now I’m afraid”.

Adrian mumbled his thanks, and walked back to the car in a daze.

It was easy enough to find the hotel, and they had a room available. It was one of the refurbished double rooms at a premium rate, but Adrian was in no mood to search the unfamiliar market town for a better deal. He sat on the bed wondering what to do, and becoming more annoyed that Sally could be so irresponsible and selfish. Imagine leaving like that, when she knew he was coming as arranged? He resolved to speak to her mother the next day, then went down to the bar for a beer and a meal.

After a below average breakfast the next morning, he arrived back at the house just after ten. Mrs Brooks answered the door, and he was immediately relieved to discover she knew who he was. Eyeing the plain-looking young man with his double-breasted blazer and neatly trimmed hair, Charlotte Brooks was wondering how her daughter had hooked up with someone so unlike all her other friends.

“Yes, Adrian. She told me you were giving her a lift to visit my relatives in Normandy. That’s very kind of you. Then she went off with some of her old friends who came to see her. I think they were going to see Stonehenge. I’m sure they will be back in a few days. Would you like a cup of tea?”

Her accent was very French, but after so long in England, her English was flawless. Over tea, she chatted in a friendly manner. “I met my husband during the war of course. He was part of the army that liberated Caen, where I lived with my parents in a village outside the city. I was a young impressionable girl then, and he was very handsome. He drove a tank, you know. Now he drives trains, and maybe he’s not so handsome any longer”.

Adrian had the uneasy feeling that the woman might be trying to seduce him. He had no experience with girls or women, not so much as a kiss, and he felt uncomfortable around this lady, who seemed to be much younger than her husband.

Standing up, he remained impeccably polite as he produced a piece of paper with a phone number written on it. “Thank you so much for the tea, and your kindness. This is the phone number of the hotel where I am staying. I am in room six, and would be grateful if you could ask Sally to call me when she gets home. I am keen to get started on our trip to France”.

She took the paper, and he couldn’t help thinking that her smile was a knowing smile.

40 thoughts on “A Good Runner: Part Eighteen

  1. Well then Pete. . . after 18 Parts? I’m hooked! It’s a “car’s” story!

    Not so worried about Adrian, as I’m guessing Sally will pop up in part nineteen, yet to be read.

    But, I am very curious about how Stella and Trevor are getting on over at Whitney Cars. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Ah, Cortinas. Being an unabashed Anglo-American car guy, who spent most of his summers growing up in SE17 & SE5, I became a fan of saloon racing. And as such, I am a fan of the Lotus Cortina, the RS1800 Mexico and the RS2000 Escort.

    But wait. . . There’s more: My eldest brother Derek bought a new 1969 Cortina, marketed as a ‘1970’ in ubiquitous white. . . and unfortunately not a GT with the extra gauges, though the cutout silhouettes were there to see on the center dash ๐Ÿ˜ฆ And even for the market here in the states? Ford was still ‘not’ installing the radios at the factory at this time. If you wanted music in that car you needed to be singing! Oh, I honed my manual transmission skills in that car, which, to me made it special.

    Of note (well, at least to me. . . ), within a year of me turning 16 (1975) we now had a 1971 Triumph TR6 in BRG with the Union Jack TR6 decals and deck lid emblem, but no electric OD ;-( owned by my brother Robert; a 1965 Sunbeam Alpine (it was a wanna-be “Tiger 289” project) owned by Derek; and my mom decided dad needed a British car, when she came across a nice, low mileage 1968 series 1 & 1/2 XKE roadster with factory hardtop owned by an airline pilot based at SFO who was going through a messy divorce and needed to sell it fast & cheap (it is still in the family with Robert, more on that later).

    After helping wrench on each of these three? I bought a well maintained 1970 Opel GT (1.9 Litre) late in ’75 (referred to as a mini Corvette), as these little German Opels were very reliable in the day. The GT was a bit more ‘show than ‘go’ as delivered from the factory, basically being a reskinned Kadett B, which competed against the Cortina’s and Escorts in rally and saloon racing. But this little ‘German Jeep’ as my brothers called it, though appearing ‘stock’ on casual appearance was fitted with a few important performance bits. As equipped, it owned the #2 spot in the barn at home as regards to performance only because the ’65 Tiger project was never finished.

    The epolouge of those cars that helped shaped my Youth? The Cortina got totaled; the Alpine was sold, not running; my brother Robert married in ’81 and moved out,taking the TR6 with him, and it survived untill the late 1990’s but was shamelessly allowed to atrophy under a blue tarp on the side of his driveway due to some sort of mechanical ailment that would be addressed ‘soon’ so my brother kept telling me, but eventually it was dragged off the side driveway (with the wheel hubs siezed) by a wrecker and hauled off somewhere for about the number of pounds that the green Cortina sold for on its last sale. . . but sadly, in U.S. dollars. I sold the Opel GT for double what I bought it for after University. It went to a good home.

    Dad passed nearly 2 years ago, and Robert got the Jag. Now, the E-Type in Robert’s hands is a scary thought. He loves the idea of having it, (he is a ‘real’ Rocket Scientis (retired) but has near zero mechanical skills, and you know the fate of his TR6. . . Lord, I pray to you for the survival of that Jag in a drafty garage in the Sierra foothills of N. Califronia ๐Ÿ™‚

    I owned a few American Mucle Cars during this period as well but those hold unrelated stories for another day ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Did I mention that I love the story?

    All the best,

    Chris Tabone

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the car memories, Chris, and for reading my story as well as following this blog.
      You might enjoy this older post, about the cars I have owned during my life.

      Cars: My Life On The Road


      As for muscle cars, in 1971 I lusted after a right-hand drive Dodge Charger. I eventually found one for sale at a Chrysler dealership in Kent. It was ex-demo, and I could afford to buy it, just. But the insurance quote (I was 19) was almost as much as the monthly payments on the car!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) Bad citation: “Adrian packed his clothes into a suitcase, and said goodbye to his rented room. ‘Goodbye, rented room! Parting is such sweet sorrow, for though I cherish the memories, I no longer have room in my heart for you!’ Upon speaking those words, Adrian wiped away the tears and silently departed.”
    (2) Once he steps foot in France, Adrian will stop at a food bank and exchange traveller’s cheques for French fries.
    (3) What struck Adrian was how much Mr. Brooks looked like Kevin Costner, who once played a serial killer. There was something else about him, too, but Adrian couldn’t put his thumbprint on it.
    (4) “Some student friends of hers picked her up in one of those Volksagen camper van thingys.” Little did they know that Jimmy Walker would crouch low down, walk to the back of the camper van thingy, and, working quickly and quietly, use all of his considerable strength to unscrew the valves from both canisters of propane gas stored underneath to supply fuel for the cooker. And then…BOOM!
    (5) Isn’t “Royal Victoria and Bull” a British version of “Beauty and the Beast”?
    (6) “Adrian had the uneasy feeling that the woman might be trying to seduce him.” I hope he doesn’t get caught in Charlotte’s web.
    (7) I think Charlotte’s marriage is in the tank…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She is Sally now. That’s who she was supposed to be. I used the name Jenny by mistake, from a different character I decided not to include. Thanks for spotting my ‘old git’ error. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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