Wyndwrayth: Chapter 5 excerpt

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Sitting on his bed, Nick looked down at his little gut, which was slightly protruding from his splayed open dressing gown and sighed,

“Well this won’t do,” he casually observed and rose to go to the double wardrobe and choose some more useful clothing. He didn’t really have much choice to pick from, because whenever Nick found something comfortable and easy to wear, he had a rather annoying habit of buying several of the item and storing them in his giant wooden dresser. He reached into the nest of coat hangers and selected a washed-out denim shirt and a pair of soft blue elephant cords. ‘Hmm, jacket, or waistcoat,’ he mused and without much delay, withdrew his much-favoured leather bomber jacket, gave it a quick shake and then threw it on the bed.

“May I suggest, that Sir might like to complement this look, with a nice soft scarf, or maybe a hat of some kind?” He said, self mockingly and struck a hard man pose, one which Robert Mapplethorpe would have been pleased with. The whole concept made him chuckle, even as he attempted to see which of his options, best suited the planned day ahead.

“Well Sir, we’ve got a rather fetching blue scarf, or perhaps I can tempt Sir, with a navy cap?”

He was snapped back into reality, by the scrunching sound of a vehicle pulling into the car park by the lakeside. Out of sheer nosiness, Nick moved over to the bedroom window and getting up on his tip toes, just managed to see the top edge of the rest area. His restricted view didn’t stop him observing the arrival of Lady Cleaver in a Range Rover, which immediately decanted one of their farm workers. Nick lost track of him as he appeared to move towards the old Land Rover with box trailer, the one he’d noticed on his way to the pub last night. A moment or two later, he watched as Lady Cleaver left the car park in the Range Rover and sped off towards Kornwy village.

“You fancy a morning joint, eh Nickle-arse?” He asked himself, as he applied todays liberal ‘splash’ of patchouli oil to his wrists. “Just a little touch of ‘Hippie Juice’ for good luck,” he added, as he rubbed another dab of the Indian scent on his neck. “Yes! And why not,” he both asked and answered his own question as he headed downstairs to pour his coffee and roll a doobie.

Fully prepared he parked his arse on the leather seat in front of Heddi, ‘Now to see about that e-mail,’ he thought, taking another toke on his Joint. The communication, turned out to be Alan T’s monthly update on his life and as usual, Nick took the time to read it fully. ‘Altorro,’ had been following this particular path of writing a sort of blow, by blow account of his life, ever since Nick had relocated to Anglesey. He seemed determined, that they should never lose touch with each other again. So, they wrote and tried to get together for a natter, at least once a year. A task made much easier since Alan had changed his day job, from Head Honcho at The Central Library, to what he referred to as, The Chief Engineer on The Snowdon Mountain Railway.

‘I’ll write back tomorrow, man,’ he silently promised. There was also a piece of junk from somebody offering him an ‘Amazing Diet,’ which he summarily deleted after it made him think of hot crumpets. Nick headed for his bread bin, only to find his stash of crumpets had gone mouldy. ‘Dammit Nick, what a wastrel,’ he thought. ‘Hmm I bet I know who’ll have some and it’s a while since I caught up on the local gossip.  Maybe she knows about this Land Rover……Yes! Time for a trip to the Heath House!’ Nick threw on his Patchouli infested leather jacket, as he walked through the door.

Nearing the car park, he spotted the single bloke delivered by Lady Cleaver, in his overalls standing by the Land Rover, with its empty trailer still attached.

“Won’t start eh?” He offered, not waiting for an answer. “It’s the damp. It gets into everything around here.” The some-time mechanic, smiled back at him and muttered something about “damp starter plugs,” to which Nick simply offered, “I know the feeling,” continuing on his way with a wave.

Buckie spotted him and started barking as he opened the garden gate. “Not got anything for you today, I’m just looking for a drink this time…and a few crumpets.” The words had barely left his mouth, when Gayle opened the top of the door and called out,

“Black, two sugars? I’ve got some crumpets toasting if you want?” He’d been miles away and her intrusion, made him jump.

“Shit Gayle, you trying to kill me, or what?” he enquired, laughingly. “And the answer’s yes….., to both.” Nick called back, whilst rolling Buckie around on the grass and stroking his stomach.

Gayle soon appeared with the tray of crumpets and coffee, setting it down in the conseravatory and opening the door for him to come and sit with her. “Looks like this is our lucky day, old son,” he confided to Buckie, “play your cards right and we’ll both be winners,” he said quietly to the upside-down Cairn, who just continued squirming and wagging his tail.

“I knew you wouldn’t be far away, when I saw them come around to fix the Land Rover,” and before he was able to respond, she went on, “I called that bitch Lady Cleaver about it this morning. Knew it was one of theirs. That’s our car park and the new sign clearly says, ‘No Overnight Stays!’” She pulled a face, “They still act like they own the whole place.”

Gayle and Harold had bought their place from the Cleavers five years ago, on the understanding that they were going to sell the lake with the island and that the Heath’s, would have first refusal. They had spent a lot of money knocking down the old farmhouse and erecting their modern lakeside palace, in anticipation of purchasing the lake with the island and turning it into an exclusive hotel. Then, the Cleavers had announced that they had no intention of selling the lake, much to the annoyance of both Gayle and Harold.

“Do you think there’s something untoward going on, with Cuthbert down at the lake?” She asked and indicated to the car park, with her thumb.

“No, the man’s an idiot. I think we can forget about Cuthbert,” scoffed Nick, stuffing a crumpet in his mouth.

“Well, what about the Land Rover?” She replied curiously. Even though he couldn’t see the vehicle from here, he pointed out to her that the farm ‘mechanic’ was getting it started and it would soon be gone. “Hmm, I suppose so but you can’t be too careful these days…. ‘n anyway, I wouldn’t believe what that bitch said!” She retorted and sat back to drink her coffee.

“OK, what she said was probably true. It was just a problem getting it started after one of the farmhands stopped for a break, after delivering some sheep to one of the fields.” She sighed resignedly.

“Well there’s an empty trailer attached to the back of it you know,” he commented, reassuringly. “It would fit four sheep in nicely,” he added and smiled at Gayle, knowingly. Just at that moment there was the sound of an engine firing up and a pall of black smoke rose into the air. Moments later, they saw the offending vehicle heading off towards the Cleavers Estate dragging its empty trailer. Nick finished his last bite of crumpet, swilled it down with a final gulp of coffee and laid the empty mug, carefully on its provided coaster. Getting to his feet, he mumbled something about, “e-mailing one of his colleagues” and made his way directly towards the gate.

“Thanks for the refreshments, Gayle, I was just being nosey, that’s all,” he said as the gate swung open.

“I know you were and before you ask, yes, it was that obvious.” A now chagrined Nick, comically hung his head and purposefully winced,

“Oooh, right between the eyes, show a little mercy, won’t you?”

He was soon back home, still trying to put the remainder of his day into some sort of order. ‘Now for that e-mail,’ he thought and turned ‘Heddi’ on. ‘Hmm, joint first, Alan second,’ he added, rolled a quick one and lit it, before looking out of the window towards Ynys y Niwl and its mysterious mansion.

“It must have been nice living there once upon a time,” he opined. “All that quiet solitude and nothing to disturb the peace……” Nick continued privately postulating. ‘Bet he was an author,’ he mused, imaginatively filling in the gaps in his knowledge…“OK Altorro, let’s see what you’ve been up to then,” he commented as he headed back to the computer.

“Rack and Pinion y’all,” read the header, so as far as he could discern, it was genuine. “Yo bitch, how yer doin?” It read in utter comedic excess. “This bitch is doing fine,” Nick responded, in character as he sat down and reached for the ashtray. Alan’s frequent correspondences, which usually arrived at the start of each month, always had one thing going for them; they invariably had a solid vein of humour and intelligence running throughout. Plus, they always contained at least one intriguing concept to consider, or argue over if it came to it. During their school days, Nick and Alan Turnbull had been both bosom buddies and the bitterest of enemies, over some minor, though crucially important point of principal, be it political or ethical. Nick sat back in his chair, took a toke and read on. The next sentence, once again let him know, why Altorro and he had been friends for all these years. It simply read, “Mr. Swann, put down that joint and pay attention.” Nick, smiled affectionately and almost silently muttered,

“Fuck, am I that easy to predict?” Then, took another drag and began reading the e-mail carefully.

It seemed, that this year’s visit to Anglesey, which normally happened in the space between Santa calling and Hogmanay, was going to be delayed until mid-January because of Alan’s commitments to the railway.

“Funny, I was going to suggest that to you, when you called round,” Nick quietly said to the mail, on his screen. Then, so he wouldn’t forget, he made a note and stuck it on Heddi, for future use. ‘There’s too much going on at Christmas and things always seem to be rushed. If you call around, roughly on my birthday, you could stay here for a few days.’ Happy with that, he carried on reading and learnt all about what Alan was planning to do in his back garden. Then he ran across the question Alan wanted his opinion on: ‘Did he think, that there were too many Herons around for him to think of a pond with fish in it, or would that be simply too tempting for the beggars?’ Just exactly why Altorro thought he should know the answer to this one, was anyone’s guess. It was not a part of his everyday knowledge and was going to need some looking into before he replied, which was going to have to wait at least until this evening.

Nick’s Sunday’s had a certain routine and this one, had already been disrupted enough by his visit to Gayle’s. Normally, after Saturday night in The Poacher’s and a late get up in the morning, the day had planned itself. A bit of politics over the crumpets, followed by a game of Footie on the box and some relaxing music, while he planned for the week ahead. Any e-mailing of clients, or Alan in this case, was usually done after dinner, while some riveting serialised shit, was playing out in the background, on the T.V. He looked at his wrist watch, just to check the time, ‘two minutes to three, excellent!’ He picked up the stashbox, made his way into the lounge and turned the television on.

Due to his foresight in recording the game, he would not have to put up with the half time break, or the inane language and idiotic statements of the pundits. With the press of a button, half time would be eliminated and the game would continue unabated. Concentration was not something that normally worried Nick on a Sunday but the much-anticipated game, turned out to be a cold squib, dominated by two defences that totally stymied both attacks.

“Well this is tedious, they should have offered these idiots a point each and sent them home,” he commented with twenty minutes still on the clock. Nick thought about turning the game off but instead, chose to mute the sound and put the stereo on. “Best of both worlds,” he commented to nobody in particular and sat himself down again. ‘I could always have a look, for the name of that house,’ Nick proposed, as he rose and made his way over to the window. As he approached, the island came more clearly into view and he stopped to take a good look at Ynys y Niwl, floating on the calm water.

“Let’s check you out….” Nick, muttered and moved to the computer. He typed the name of the island into the search engine section and clicked. It was the fifth topic raised, after all the translation tools and Wikipedia entries had been discounted. ‘Ynys y Niwl. Unpopulated island on Llyn Isaf in Anglesey.’ Was all that the search engine could come up with.

However, further down the listings, there was more. Like the Welsh to English translation and its various meanings. Disappointingly, there seemed to be nothing that may lead to information about the forgotten house. Just as Nick was about to lose interest and go back to the boring football match, a map came to his attention. Again, he clicked and lo and behold, when the thing popped up, it was an old surveyors ground plan from 1726, which had been submitted when new owners had applied to alter its name from Wyndwrayth, to the Welsh, Y Wake Gwynt.

“Yes,” he exclaimed, “there it is, Y Wake Gwynt! That’s the name of the place” Now, Nick was intrigued. He had been living on Anglesey for over three years and had picked up quite a bit of the Welsh language but ‘Wyndwrayth,’ was a different tongue. “I wonder what the origin of that one is,” he asked the empty room and yawned. “Oof, time to relax,” he commented, stretching.

‘Wyndwrayth, can wait until this evening, along with the e-mail to Alan,’ he decided.  It would be an interesting item to raise later and it just might give him something to get his teeth into. Feeling well satisfied with himself, Nick clicked ‘Heddi’ off and sat himself down once more, in front of the television, reached over for the Cognac decanter and his stashbox.

“Ahh, it’s Sunday ‘n you done good, kid,” he said to himself, in a terrible Brooklyn accent, as he poured three fingers of the brown liquid into his glass. Then between sips, he stuck the cigarette papers together and placed them on the lid, before loading and rolling the doobie. ‘Two birds with one stone,’ he thought as he took a sip, then lit the joint and closed his eyes, letting the music carry him away, on an aromatic cloud.

 

**

 

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