This is the twenty-first part of a fiction serial, in 803 words.
Although he was French-Canadian, Julien didn’t speak French to them as they drove along. He didn’t speak English with an American accent either, as Adrian had heard from some Canadians he had met. No, he spoke English with a French accent, and the sound of him talking set Adrian’s teeth on edge. As well as that, he didn’t smell too good, as if he hadn’t washed himself or his clothes for some time. Winding down the window to let in some extra fresh air, Adrian tried to ignore the big man’s chatter.
“Yees, I hev been in France for sex months now, travelling in a cirque. I know such a great place. Let me show you. Waterfalls, rapids, boootiful woods.” Sally was keen. “Sounds great, where do we turn off?” Unable to hide the annoyance in his voice, Adrian snapped at her. “What about Biarritz? I thought that was OUR plan?” Julien didn’t seem to sense any atmosphere. “It’s the Jura, near the Suisse border. North of Lyon. We can turn off at Tours, head east in direction of Macon.” Sally yelled. “YES, let’s do it!”
As if Julien’s mix of langauges wasn’t irritating enough, Sally’s enthusiasm to follow his suggestion left Adrian’s face set in stone. He turned east at Tours though, hoping they would get shot of him somwehere in the Jura. Over five hours later, after consulting his map and filling up with petrol again, Adrian pulled into the village of Doucier, where Julien said they would find cheap accommodation at a campsite that had tents for hire.
Surprisingly, Julien produced some money to pay for the tent. It was already erected, and came with four sleeping mats, four collapsible chairs, and a small stove powered by a gas bottle. Some mismatched cups, glasses, and cutlery were in a wooden box in one corner. For Adrian, him and Sally sharing a tent with Julien was far from an ideal prospect, but as it had only been booked for three nights, and the weather was surprisingly good, he resolved to make the best of it.
Because it was late afternoon, the small shop on the site was sold out of almost everything. Seeking to raise Sally’s estimation of him, Adrian offered to drive back into the lakeside area of Doucier, where the site manager had suggested he might be able to buy food and drink for the night. Sally shouted after him. “Red wine, Adey. Don’t forget that!” The bakery was almost sold out, and he had to settle for three baguettes that felt far too hard. A small delicatessen proved to be a better find though, and he purchased a variety of cured meats and cheeses, along with two litres of cheap red wine.
When he got back, he noticed the long zip securing the front of the tent was closed. Presuming they had gone for a walk, Adrian placed the car keys and shopping on the ground, then pulled the zip up. What he saw inside made him stagger backwards in surprise. Julien’s naked arse, his filthy trousers around his ankles, and Sally’s bare legs wrapped around his back. Unconcerned by his obvious presence, they seemed determined to finish what they were doing. Adrian turned and ran for all he was worth, a rage building inside.
With no idea where he was going, he found himself on some rocks high above a fast-flowing stream, and sat down heavily on one, his chest heaving and face hot and flushed.
It was dark by the time they found him. Sally walked forward, her tone flat. “God, Adrian, you had us worried. What the hell was all that about? You need to be cool man. It’s not as if you and me were a thing. Come on, it’s just sex, no big deal”. Adrian stood up. He had made up his mind to tell her to clear off, and go her way with Julien. He would go back to Normandy, and see the Bayeux Tapestry before returning to England. But as he turned to tell her that, Julien started laughing. “Hell, Sally. I betting heez never done it”.
Arms and legs flailing, Adrian attacked the grinning oaf, punching and kicking for all he was worth. But it was a lost cause. Not only had Adrian never had a fight in his life, the other man was a head taller, and twice as broad. After laughing at the puny Englishman’s efforts for a few moments, Julien pulled back his right arm and landed a massive punch on his opponent’s jaw.
It was harder than he had meant to punch though. Adrian staggered back, fell heavily onto the rock where he had been sitting, and then slid off into the abyss below.
Grabbing Sally’s arm, the Canadian screamed at her. “Let’s get out of here!”