Part 1: A Life In Pieces (click here) Part 2 Another Life In Pieces, part 3 A Life in Anguished Pieces, Part 4 A Life in Mobile Words, Part 5 A Life in Coffee Part 6 A Life in Loneliness, Part 7 A Life In Rags, Part 8, A Life in Confusion, Part 9, A Life In Families Part 10, A Life in Memories, Part 11 A Life in Contemplation, Part 12 A life in church, Part 13 A Life in Lasagne, Part 14 A Life in Chaos, Part 15 A Life in Gossip, Part 16, A Life In Custody, Part 17, A Life in Doubt, Part 18, A Life in Crisis, Part 19, A Life in "It Serves Him Right", Part 20, A Life in Paradise, Part 21, A Life in Holidays, Part 22, A Life in Emotions, Part 23, A Life in Fours, Part 24, A Life on a Bus, Part 25, A Life on the Ocean Waves and Part 26 A Life En-Route
A LIFE IN ARGUMENT
The second day of their holiday saw Saphie and Rusty and the rest of the coach party crossing into Germany by crossing the Rhine until they reached the middle of that magnificent waterway. The borders between the two countries lay along the river, so they crossed from The Rhin to The Rhein.
“There was a time when there would have been all manner of border posts between the countries of Europe,” said Rusty after a while. “But now it's as if we were in one big country in many respects. Even the currency is the Euro in most of them.”
“Except the good old UK,” put in Saphie.
“Yes. That - and Switzerland,” nodded Rusty.
“Listen to those two,” came Agatha's voice from the seat behind them, obviously intended for them to hear, “all lovey-dovey and cosy, as if we weren't here, whispering away about goodness-knows what.”
“That'll do, dear,” rumbled Josiah Pike, “there's no need to be critical. We're all on the same jaunt and it'd be best if we got on together.”
“I was just saying,” she sniffed.
“There's some beautiful countryside, and lots of trees,” sighed Saphie.
“Who wants trees?” groaned Agatha. “All I want is to get there and hit the bar! They do have a bar at the hotel, don't they? If I find there isn't one I think I'll explode!”
“I'm sure there is,” muttered the Reverend, “or we wouldn't have paid for all-inclusive, would we? Drinks are paid for until eleven!”
“It'd be just like the Italians to sell us the booze up front and then when we get there tell us they don't have any!” Agatha's voice was bitter, as Rusty remembered it from when she'd shared his home for a few weeks, and he felt like standing up and telling her exactly what he thought of her. But as he stirred to stand Saphie squeezed his hand and shook her head.
“Don't,” she said, none-too-quietly, “there's no need to sink to her level! We're on a coach, there are lots of other people all around and we don't want to show ourselves up, do we?”
“It's just that … if we've got to put up with the damned woman for the rest of the holiday without a break then I think I'll explode!” declared Rusty. “Talk of bitterness and spitefulness! What makes a woman turn out like that?”
“I've no idea,” growled Rusty, “but I put up with it for far too long before I told her to get out of my house, and stay out!”
“Let's enjoy the scenery,” murmured Saphie. “I can already see loads of mountains in the distance. It's really beautiful, what with the sun shining down on us and the coach racing along so quietly. And aren't the roads relatively quiet compared to those at home? I mean, the M1 is positively scary compared to this road, which looks to be just as much a motorway.
“Britain is a crowded island,” agreed Rusty.
“I'll bet they'll be committing some dreadful sins, the two of them, when they're behind closed doors,” put in Agatha's voice, quite clearly from the seat behind.
“What do you mean?” asked Josiah Pike.
“Well, we're doing the decent thing, single rooms, single supplements like you paid, no hanky panky, but the two of the perverts are bound to share the same room and I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't share a double bed too!”
Rusty turned round at that. He'd heard quite enough. There is, he thought, a limit to what any man can be expected to take, especially when he's on holiday!
“So what?” he asked. “It's none of your business, but yes, we have asked for a double room with a double bed. Not that what we do or do not get up to in the privacy of our own room has anything to do with either of you!”
“It's my collar...” mumbled the Reverend Pike, “I could hardly be seen wearing my collar while I was sharing a boudoir with a single lady. It would be quite wrong! I mean, what would people say?”
“I thought that if the Bishop was here...” began Saphie.
“Don't say that!” squealed the Reverend. “I like ladies. I know that I do!”
“You mean, you're a hypocrite?” asked Saphie, also turning round. “You want to do one thing whilst pronouncing on another?”
“He's an honourable, decent man, and hie's my vicar!” snapped Agatha, “he knows when to keep his pants on and his trousers zipped, which is more than you can say for some!”
“What's he doing with you, then?” began Saphie, but this time it was Rusty who intervened with a gentle squeeze of her arm.
“Leave it, Saphie,” he said, much more quietly. “I've been down roads like this with her before, times many if the truth were known, and there's any amount of common sense you can say that she pours scorn all over just for the irrational sake of it. Just leave it.”
“This was going to be our special little holiday,” sighed Saphie, “and instead it's likely to become a nightmare because of her.”
“We'll enjoy ourselves, I promise,” she said quietly.
“Maybe the good vicar will hammer some sense into her,” suggested Saphie, smiling slightly, “maybe he'll show her the path to righteousness and decency. Maybe he'll even convert her to the straight and narrow and make a nun out of her!”
“Maybe pigs might fly!” grinned Rusty, “come on, let’s get back to the scenery. I believe there are quite a few tunnels ahead, some of them quite a few miles long. And the mountains, as we get closer to our destination, become truly glorious. And they go on for mile after mile.
“Monumental rifts left over from the Creation,” they heard the vicar muttering to Agatha. “Proof, if ever proof were needed, of the power of our Maker.”
“I didn't think you believed in him any more?” whispered Agatha, audibly “I thought you looked on that collar of yours as just a means to putting bread on your table and wine in your glass!”
“When you see this, though, it makes you think again,” murmured Josiah. “It makes you realise that there might be more marvels in Heaven and on Earth than our dreamed of by men...”
“Now they're being philosophical,” breathed Saphie into Rusty's ear.
“If they were a bit more amenable I'd explain about tectonic plates and the continent drift, but seeing as they aren't I'll keep quiet.” he replied.
“Nobody really knows, for sure, what it was like at the very beginning,” whispered Saphie. “Nobody was there to see what really happened.”
“But we can all guess there wasn't an old man with a beard and a magic wand,” said Rusty. “And added to that there's enough actual evidence that proves the best scientific theories can't be far off the mark.”
“I think we should pray,” announced Josiah suddenly, in a voice loud enough for more than the two in front of him to hear, and he stood up and put his hands together in an attitude of prayer.
“Dear Lord,” he began, and his voice boomed as a consequence of the experience of many years at the pulpit of his church. “We thank thee oh Lord for the world you have made for us and the glorious sights you have prepared for our enjoyment...”
“Shut up!” chorused half a dozen people in seats nearby.
There was a loud click as the driver switched his intercom on.
“Come on Reverend, sit down before the German cops spot you!” he urged, trying to sound light-hearted.
“I was only praying to my Lord,” complained Josiah. “I'm a God-fearing cleric!”
But he sat down, scowling.
“Poor you, they just don't understand,” soothed Agatha.
“I rather think they do,” breathed Saphie, and she winked at Rusty.
© Peter Rogerson 10.04.14