It was our last day of a short, week long holiday. We, Betty and I, had a good time. Nothing to complain. if at all, the time was just too short. Before we had to catch the train home in the afternoon we went to the street fair that had been organised by the local council.
Stalls were put up along the main street which was closed off to all traffic. We mingled with the happy expectant crowd that was moving along. We inspected the wares the dealers had laid out on the tables. Mostly home craft, produced by the locals, was on offer – and food of course. While we waited to be served with a kebab, we noticed a mini bus in a side street coming up close behind the stall. Inside were half a dozen people and all were smoking. I always thought “Greenies” would not smoke, perhaps pot? Something was strange about the mini bus. It had the name of an wild life protection agency on the side. On the seat beside the driver was a man with a small girl on his lap and both were not wearing seat belts. I had to say something and I did,
“Isn’t it a bit irresponsible driving around with the little girl on your lap and all of you smoking like hell and no seat belt?”
“What is it to you, Old Timer?” one of them asked me. “We do what we like. We are free.” They all laughed and let the engine roar and took off. I tried to read the website and the phone number on its site. But I could not read nor remember it. I tried really hard but the car was gone in a flash. We collected our kebab and moved on: all the while looking for a spot to sit down.
We had not walked far when we noticed to our surprise that Lily, our former daughter-in-law, was walking towards us. I was surprised as we had not heard that she had moved to that part of the country. We greeted each other with hugs and kisses as we were always on good terms with her despite our son and her having been divorced.
“Isn’t it a beautiful day today,” she said. “So many people are out and about and really enjoying themselves.” Indeed this seemed to be the case. People need to forget their every day concerns from time to time. A boy, not more than four years old, a toddler really, came up to us and stopped short of Lily and starred at her without saying a word. His mouth was open and his big dark eyes looking at her, wondering about her beauty, no doubt.
“Do you know the boy?” I asked her.
“He must like me,” she said with a smile and a shrug.
“Like you? I think he fell in love with you,” Betty said and we all laughed.
We walked a few paces together when I saw an old poker machine. One could pay a Dollar and play for a few minutes with some tokens just for the fun of it. I started to play and Betty and Lily kept walking. Soon they disappeared in the crowd. I enjoyed pulling down the handle. This was much better than the modern machines where one only has buttons to operate it. The lights were flashing and from time to time some of the tokens were falling back into the tray with a tinkling sound ─ my so called winnings. Suddenly the machine stoppedworking and an attendant displayed an ‘Out-of-Order’ sign on it.
I checked the time and found we should head back to the hotel and fetch our luggage. Two o’clock was the train departure and we had less than an hour. I could not see Betty nor Lily. I started to worry, but not panicking yet.
While standing with a young man, who had asked me for directions, I saw James Dean coming along. I had met him a few times before and we often exchanged some words, like old friends. He recognised me at once and came towards me with his outstretched hand. He had a big grin on his face, squinted his eyes and made some dance-like movements with his legs. You would not be surprised to hear that he was clad in a pair of jeans and a leather jacket over a white T-shirt..
‘It is James Dean,’ I said out of the side of my mouth to the young man, who was still standing by my side.
“Hi, Jack,” Jimmy said, shaking my hand and offering his hand to the young man.
“Hi John,” said the youngster and I said, “It is James!”
“It’s Jimmy to my friends,” Jimmy said and turned to me.
“Where was it last time we met?” he asked still grinning and showing his white teeth.
‘”I thought he was dead,” the young man said.
“You are dead right, he is dead, over fifty years. Smashed his Porsche on a lonely stretch of road in California, hitting another car that had turned in front of him.”
Jimmy had turned quiet and looked down at his foot as he scrapped with his shoe in the dirt.
“What is he doing here, if he is dead,” the young man wanted to know. Jimmy looked up again with his grin restored.,
“You are a smart kid,” he said and poked his index finger into the youngster’s belly and laughed.
“Haven’t you heard of the Flying Dutchman or Elvis Presley, all restless souls, wandering the world forever,” I asked the boy, all the while keeping a lookout for Betty. Jimmy must have noticed and said, “Sorry, I have to go. Have more things to do and see. Jack, I’ll see you again one day. I’ll make sure.’ He then disappeared with a swagger in the crowd; kicking some rubbish as he went.
I looked at my watch. Quarter to two! I wanted to call, “Betty”. It would be silly in the crowd and I felt I would not be able to, even if I wanted. I left the young man, who was still wondering about what he had just experienced. The hotel was on my mind, when I heard Betty’s voice calling out for me,
“Jack, Jack! It is time for you to get up. The train to Sydney won’t wait for you.”
I shook my head and rubbed my eyes. I could not belief that all this was just a dream and, with weak legs, I stumbled to the toilet.