“And when we all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice spoken unto me, Saul, Saul, why thou persecutest me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”
The Acts 9:4,5
It’s funny how they all come out in the sun. Only the English get this excited. I look around the beer garden, fascinated. My eyes wander, it’s hard to take everything in through these eyes. They wander until I’m back looking at Cleo, who’s sat opposite me, her mouth moving.
“What did you say?”, I ask.
“For fuck sake Paul, how many times? What are you thinking about?”.
She’s drunk. She’s always drunk. It’s three in the afternoon, we’ve been here an hour and a half and she’s nearly finished her second bottle of wine. I take off her sunglasses.
“Your eyes are like piss holes in the snow”.
She shakes her head, drunkenly.
“You watch too many films, can’t you be original?”
“Not in this life”.
She puts her sunglasses back on and lights a cigarette. She is by far the most beautiful human I have ever met. She looks at her watch.
“John should have been here an hour ago. Something’s wrong”.
“Nothing’s wrong, princess. He probably decided to walk, you know how he gets on public transport”.
“I’ve got a bad feeling”.
“Keep it to yourself”.
She smokes her cigarette, looking at me intensely through those sunglasses. I go back to people watching. One man catches my eye on another table, a fat bald headed man, who seems to think he won’t offend anyone without an upper garment on. I’m offended. I listen to him ranting on to his mates, ranting about politics. He’s going to vote Ukip, likes that Nigel Farage, thinks he’s going to kick out all the immigrants, put the Great back into Britain. His brain must be very small.
“And he likes a pint! He’s a proper regular bloke, know what I mean. That’s the kinda guy this country needs I’m telling ya!”
I’m beginning to understand why Cleo gets intoxicated all the time. Why most of them do. It must be painful living this life sober. I grab the wine bottle, to Cleo’s dismay.
“Hey! There’s only enough for one more glass in that!”
“Yeah well, you’ve had enough”.
“I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough!”
“I’ll get another bottle in a minute”.
“Good! I like my wine, it makes me feel…lovely!”
“I can see that. Just make sure you snap out of it when John gets here”.
Her countenance fell when I said that, which makes me feel uneasy.
“Are we doing the right thing?”
The question annoys me.
“Of course we are! Don’t you trust me?”
She jerks upright, like she’s been electrocuted.
“Of course I do!”
She slumps again.
“I’ve got a bad feeling, that’s all”.
She folds her arms and looks to the sky. I watch her for a minute, waiting for the next words to fall out of her mouth.
“The clouds look so strange today. Like waves. Or something like that.”
She isn’t good at describing things. The clouds don’t look like waves at all, although they do look different. More of us are falling, I don’t know if they will be friend or foe. Probably both. I’ve been busy lately, and must have attracted attention. I drink my wine, and think about the task at hand, becoming more and more determined with every second. I notice Cleo staring at me, again.
“Go and get another bottle, will you?” I ask.
She tuts and gets up dramatically, and walks into the pub. I can’t help but watch. She walks so elegantly, with the confidence of someone who knows they are superior. She is ready made. A few more people have entered the garden. One group of people have children with them, the selfish bastards. This is good though, as it only serves to prove my point.
“Stop staring at people. It’s rude”.
Cleo’s back from the bar. She has two bottles of wine.
“Here, you don’t have to nick mine now”.
She puts one in front of me.
“Won’t John be suspicious if he sees you drinking?”
I pour another glass.
“I don’t care”.
“We’re doing it today. Here”.
“But…there’s kids in here”.
“I know. That’s why we’re going to do it”.
She looks nervous. Her sunglasses don’t hide the emotion.
“I thought you trusted me?”
“Good. We’re doing it today”.
We sit in silence for a while, drinking our wine, basking in the April sun, watching the people. They have no idea of what’s about to hit them. My mood is ruined when Cleo speaks again.
“Paul. I’ve really got a bad feeling. I think we should stick to the plan”.
I slam down my glass and give her a piercing look. I make a point of ignoring her and look at my watch. It’s nearly quarter to four.
“Where is he?”
I’m getting vexed. Cleo looks anxious.
“He’s done this on purpose”.
I look around the garden again. I have to stay focused.
“Look at them. I hate them. In all the lands of the earth the bad far outweigh the good. They think they’re special. They’re not special”.
“Do you think I’m special?”
Cleo takes of her sunglasses and looks me in the eye, adoringly. It calms me.
“Yeah, you’re special. You’re one in a billion. No. One in seven billion!”
I laugh out loud. Too loud.
“I’m sorry, I’ve never had much patience. Ever. And these crea…these people. Look at them. Can you believe some of them have brought their kids in here. It’s a fucking pub! Selfish bastards!”
Cleo grabs my hand.
“But we’re going to change all this, aren’t we?”
I smile at her.
“Yeah. We are”.
I have to rest. We’ve been walking for well over two hours and I’m suffering from the heat. I can sense Mary’s frustration, which is confirmed with a sigh.
“I’m sorry hen. I just need a minute”, I say.
“I know, it’s just that we’re already late and this is your third rest!”
“Do you know how old I am!”
We both laugh, which is good. Mary sits down next to me.
“John, you know I trust you, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, hen. And I trust you. I’m a good judge of character”.
“I know you are. It’s just…I have a bad feeling about Paul”.
She looks at me, worry etched all over her child like face. I let her speak.
“I don’t trust him. Please don’t be angry at me for saying so. He has a disdain for people, I can sense it”.
I couldn’t help but smile at her.
“He’s always been like this. He doesn’t understand people. In every age…”
I stop myself, fearing I have said too much.
“Please, don’t fret hen. I’m prepared for all eventualities”.
“I don’t understand! What do you mean every age?”
“All will be revealed in time”.
“Why are being so cryptic? I hate it when you do this! What if we’re heading into a trap?”
“I am prepared for all eventualities”.
She was frustrated with me. She needed to air her views.
“I don’t think he’s on our side. Look at all these cults springing up all over the world. All the terrible things happening now. Things that will shape this century, and possibly the next. Not everyone is good like you. You said yourself there will be deceivers”.
I know I am underestimating her. She is wiser than the average person, especially for one so young. It pains me in my heart that I cannot yet fully disclose the facts to her. She is getting angry.
“He wants to meet you in a pub! Have you even thought about that. He’s not like you, he’s weak!”
“It was I who arranged the meeting place”.
“A test of character”.
“I don’t understand at all”.
She looks at me for a few seconds, thinking.
“Ok. I trust you”.
We sit in silence. I listen to the birds sing, I marvel at the trees and the flowers, I feel the thrill of having the breeze stroke my face. I look up to the sky in adoration. Mary looks up too.
“The clouds look very strange today”, she says.
The clouds are different. She tries to find a proper description.
“They look like…fossils in the sky. What does it mean?”
“I don’t know”.
We stare up at them for a little while, pondering. I turn to Mary.
“All will be revealed to you by nightfall”.
She keeps her eyes on the clouds. I look to the floor, feeling the burdens of billions weighing on my shoulders. I fight the nagging doubt, the yearning for the shackles I’ve been in for a million years. No! I take a deep breath, remind myself of the task at hand, and rise to my feet.
“I’m ready now”.