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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

September 17, 2003

brass rubbing

Lucy was on her hands and knees looking at a brass inlay in the floor.
"Are you about to start rubbing?" I asked.
"I'm trying to read the inscription. It's been rubbed so many times it's gone faint."
I sat down heavily in a pew and said, "I'm feeling a bit faint myself." She looked up, concerned. "Joking," I said.
She hauled herself to her feet. "Anyway, it's all in Latin, and it's been a long time."

"I am intrigued by what you said about... whatsisname," I said
"Hmmm. I can't work out why he'd lie about something so... easily found out. How did the conversation go?"
"It was late last night. You'd already gone to bed. I was on my way out of their house, and he sort of stopped me... Cornered me a bit, actually."
"Invading your personal space."
"Like that. And a bit smelly. And he asked if I had planned anything for today, so I said I was going to go for a drive with you. This was before I asked you, sorry. First thing I thought of. And he wanted to know if we were going to the beach, and I said, no, actually, I'm really interested in finding a museum or something with information about the land reclamation, you know, what we were talking about, all the monks and the Dutch engineers draining the marshlands and reclaiming land. So like that, and he kept asking questions, all interested, but also kind of aggressive, if you know what I mean."
"Aggressive in what way?"
"Well, okay, so this is a little bit like a busman's holiday, and he was asking what did I want to go doing something work-related for, why wasn't I going to sit by the pool and relax. It was all a bit... you know. A drive out and a trip to a museum or something with a professional interest, doesn't seem too excessive to me."


"Yeah, so I said, is there anywhere round here with a museum? Don't know, he said. I asked, obviously there are places that used to be, you know, on the coast, but now they're inland, and did he know of anywhere like that? Don't know. Is there anywhere near here, I said, where the name would seem to indicate it used to be right next to the sea? Like this, St Guthlac Sur Mer. And he said, don't know. And that was it, I went to bed and thought, well, I don't like him very much, even if he is letting me stay in one of his cottages for free. And then this morning as we walked out and got in the car, there I saw it, the sticker in his windscreen."

"I see."

"So I know, genuinely, you can put something in your car window and completely forget all about it and all that. But this was... this was, 'I don't know,' to every single question. Okay, you might forget the name of the place, you might forget you once put a sticker in your car window, but you don't forget the fact of the place. The place exists, and you know about it."
She sat next to me on the pew, almost as heavily as I had, and sighed. “You think I’m imagining it?”

"No, I believe you, I really do. I just wanted to hear the details. Sorry, I never doubted you in the slightest. There are ways he might not know about it, so it would be easy for him if you confronted him to plead innocence. But Sally was saying last night that he's local, he's lived here all his life, and given he was behaving in an odd way in general, I agree with you, he was lying, but we're still no nearer to knowing why."

"It’s just the most bizarre thing to lie about. All because he didn’t like the idea of me going for a drive with you? Or what?"

The sound of a baby crying outside broke the silence, and suddenly we were no longer alone. "Come on," I said. "Let's find a café, and you can tell me all about this Guthlac geezer."


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