by H.St Vincent Beechey

 

I left Bonnie in Frankfurt, mainly because it was the nearest international airport.

The silent chauffeur had driven us back to the station after a subdued goodbye to Schloss Eisenberg. The Baroness had seen us off, and I will always remember her small, sad figure gazing after us, her hand half raised in farewell.

The chauffeur was silent, Bonnie was silent, and I? I was silent too-on the outside. Inside my head though, a torrent of thoughts jostled each other. The delayed reaction I had feared was upon me, and I hurt. I withdrew, deep into my central core, and there I hugged myself in pain. The things she had said!

The train journey to Frankfurt was painful. I was lost in thought, and Bonnie seemed to fluctuate between pensive silence and bright professional remarks about hotel bookings and timetables. After a while, summoning up her courage, she referred to the events in the castle.

‘You were willing to fight for me,’ she said in wonder. ‘Charlie, that is the most romantic thing I have ever heard of.’

‘Oh, do shut up!’ I said, and I pulled a book from my pocket and pretended to read. Bloody Women!

She didn’t believe me at first. It was simple enough; I explained again.

‘I am leaving you here in Frankfurt. If you stay here, in this hotel, you should be okay. Your room is paid for, for one month. I have arranged for your room service to be charged to my Gold Card. There is, of course, a limit, and it will not cover international phone calls.

‘It is entirely up to you whether you stay, or go back to Australia. Near the end of the month, I will telephone you here to let you know if I want you to rejoin me, and find out if you wish to do so. In an emergency, you may contact me by e-mail, the office here will help you. We need a break from each other, whether or not it is permanent remains to be seen.’

Leaving a tearful Bonnie, I took a taxi to the airport. It is amazing what you can achieve with a gold Amex card. Lufthansa had a flight due for Dublin, there was plenty of room in first class. The Irish are far more accommodating than the English. All that is required for an Australian citizen to enter is a valid passport, no visas necessary. I boarded a plane. German time was an hour ahead of GMT, the standard time of Ireland, so it seemed no time at all before we were landing at Dublin airport.

Ireland had been on my itinerary from the beginning. I had some idea of tracing the family history. There had been many Quinns who had gone to Australia, some involuntarily. Not the least, the nineteenth-century Archbishop James Quinn who was responsible for the immigration of at least six thousand Irishmen to Queensland. He was no ancestor of mine, though come to think of it he couldn’t be. A Catholic Archbishop has no descendants!

It was dark when we landed, and, after finding my luggage and going through the formalities with customs etc, I realised that I had no idea of where I was going; Bonnie usually took care of all that and I found myself looking for her, expecting any moment to hear her say “We are staying at the Grand Hotel, and our bags are in the taxi.’

There was no Bonnie, so feeling a bit like a Christmas tree bedecked with my luggage, I wandered out of the airport

‘It’s a taxi ye’ll be wanting Sor,’ a rich and cheerful voice interrupted my thoughts.

‘It is that,’ I said, quickly falling into the vernacular; maybe I have seen too many movies. The taxi driver didn’t seem to find anything strange about it.

‘You’ll be from Australia then,’ he said. ‘Don’t me own two brothers live there. One in Melbourne and one in Sydney.’

‘I’m from Melbourne.’ I said. ‘I don’t talk much about the other place.’

‘I’ve heard it’s like that,’ he grinned. ‘And where to Mister?’

‘I’m not booked in anywhere. Find me a hotel with a vacancy. Somewhere central. Nothing too grand, but business facilities would be useful.’

‘As good as done, Sor.’ With great efficiency, he wove his way through surprisingly heavy traffic keeping up a stream of monologue ranging from homespun philosophy to a running commentary on the qualities and attributes of the numerous pubs that we passed.

‘Now you look to me like a book reader, Sor, I’m a great wan for the books meself. Now that pub there, that is full of poets, but the wan at the other end of the street is purely literary, wouldn’t know a verse if it up and bit ’em.’

His cheerful chatter was vaguely soothing, I felt my spirits lightening, relieving some of the gloom of a traumatic day. I fell into a contented doze.

‘Well bless me, the gentleman has the jet lag. Wake up Sor, you are here, though where else you could be is a question in itself.’ The philosophical cabbie unloaded my luggage and passed it over to a liveried porter. I thrust some bank notes I had taken from the auto-teller at the airport into his extended hand.

‘Enough?’ I asked.

‘Too much,’ said he, and returned some.

“You’re an honest man,’ I said. ‘Give me your card. Perhaps you could show me Dublin. But tomorrow, eh, I am dead on my feet.’

‘A pleasure, Sor,’ he handed me a card, ‘This number is me mobile, we’ll just keep it between the two of us. No need to involve the cab company.” He winked. ‘Tomorrow then.’

I was very pleased with the cabbie’s choice of a hotel. Bonnie couldn’t have done better, I thought as I flopped out on a comfortable bed. I was alone. No Bonnie. The memories surged back. Who needs Bonnie. Good riddance! I told myself once again. I wish I could sound more convincing!

 

© Copyright H.St V.Beechey August 1996

 

 

Next Episode: Good Samaritan

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