Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Chapter 107

For the avoidance of doubt, Yolanda and Pablo were nowhere near the Retiro Park on Sunday lunchtime. Which was probably a good thing, all things considered. As it was, Danny Longhurst and Alan McFry made their way towards the boating lake, pausing only to listen to a classical guitarist who had drawn quite a crowd near one of the large fountains that are dotted here and there about the park.

“So, you don’t mind that Harry’s just left you to your own devices then, Danny?” Alan asked, as they leaned against a railing and watched the performance.

“He’s got other things on his mind just now, I know that,” Danny replied, choosing his words carefully.

“Y-e-s,” Alan said, drawing the word out. “I am sure he has. I expect you think it odd that the two of us don’t seem to get on?”

Danny did, but then, as an only child, the notion of sibling rivalry was only a theoretical one to him.

“We weren’t always like this. Not as kids, anyway. He was a good older brother to have around. But then he went off to university, and he was never the same after that.” Alan paused, looking off into the distance, conjuring up images from almost thirty years ago.

“Why was that?” Danny was intrigued to know.

“Well, he was always a bit of a dreamer, was Harry. I was the more practical of the two of us. I suppose college just put some kind of distance between us, that’s all. He met his wife while he was there. Did he ever mention her to you?”

Harry had never spoken about his ex-wife to Danny. For a second or two, he wondered whether there was any link between her and Alan – nothing would surprise him less, if there was.

“He never talked about her – but then, I’ve only known Harry a week, you know.”

Alan looked stunned by Danny’s revelation.

“Really? I thought you two must go back a way further, given he brought you over here on this trip. Well, you’ve got a lot to learn about Harry McFry, Danny. An awful lot indeed!”

The lesson might have continued, except that the subject of their conversation appeared on a path that wound its way over a slight hill and down to the opposite side of the fountain where they were standing, and he was arm in arm with a woman. Still some way away, they both saw the couple at the same time, but Alan commented first:

“Well, talk of the devil – and it looks like you’re going to get a chance to meet Ana, too!”

Danny tried to make out what she was like as they drew closer. He saw how she held onto Harry, how they were talking with the intimacy of old friends, almost oblivious to where they were – and certainly unaware, just yet, that they were walking towards Harry’s brother and himself.

Just then, Danny felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He fished it out and pressed the ‘answer’ button.

“Hello – is that Danny?” He recognized the voice as Laurel’s, immediately. Alan turned away, leaving him to take the call, but fixing his gaze firmly back on Harry and Ana as they continued their amble up the path towards the fountain.

“Yes. What’s up, Laurel?” he asked. He thought he’d caught a hint of anxiety in her voice. He had to shield himself from the sound of the guitarist.

“I just had a call from someone called Bill Blunt. He was asking for Harry. He said he was working on a case with him, and mentioned Cyril Galloway. I just thought it might be important, and wondered if you could let Harry know. Is he there?”

Danny saw that Harry and Ana had paused at the opposite side of the fountain. They were watching the guitar player, and seemed not to have noticed Alan and him.

“Yes – he’s here. Look, I’ll tell him what you’ve said. If he needs to ring you back, I’m sure he will. But we’ll be back home soon enough, so don’t worry.” Danny wondered if he’d reassured her strongly enough.

“OK. But I am worried. Mr Blunt is a journalist. He mentioned something about medals. Any idea what that’s about, Danny?”

Danny was surprised by the question, and had to work quickly to form a response he hoped she might believe.

“I don’t know anything about any medals, Laurel. Maybe it’s just a co-incidence?”

“Hmmm. Maybe it is. But that letter I had warned me about Galloway. I can’t help thinking you and Harry might be holding something back from me…”

Danny was mortified. He wasn’t a very practiced liar, he knew – but practice makes perfect, so he tried again.

“It sounds to me as if this Bill Blunt chap is looking for a story that isn’t there, Laurel. But if he rings again, let me know.”

That seemed to pacify her, and before she rang off Danny promised they’d call and see her as soon as they were back in Birkenhead.

As he finished the call, he glanced up and noticed that Harry and Ana had seen them, and were making their way around the fountain towards them. Curiously, they weren’t arm in arm, now.


70steen said...

I do hope Danny makes his own mind up about Harry over time (we know Hary ain't that bad really :-) )regardless of the sibling rivalary that is so obvious between the Mcfry Bros... Danny appears to be an astute young man who is taking all this adventure in his stride, whilst shaking his head in disbelief!

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Well, Danny does seem to be keeping his eye on the ball, doesn't he?
But maybe he's got his own secrets...

Theresa111 said...

OOH! Love secrets. Do you have any secrets Thomas?

the domestic minx said...

I think Danny has his head screwed on - rather hard with an atmosphere so rich with delusion and hidden secrets...

I am loving this immensely.
The tension is quite unbearable...

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Well, theresa111, I suppose I do!

Thank you, domestic minx! I'm not sure it's sustainable, that's all!