The Heart of Lunch
The Italians from Planet of New Rome were taking their annual holiday. Owing to the nature of their culture and predominantly Catholic origins, the Convent-Retreat on the Pilgrim Planet seemed appropriate for them. As a sign of their appreciation, these inter-planetary hopping restaurant chefs were called upon to treat the whole Convent and villagers to a gourmet three-course meal. I was looking forward to this midday dinner.
In the meantime, I had questions that must be answered—like why does the kitchenhand hide his face under his hoody? I had nothing better to do. Besides, Günter, distant and preoccupied, had escaped to the village. As for Commander Driver, she had morning prayers and worship, taking up the whole morning.
So, when the kitchenhand scuttled out of the dining area after washing up, I followed him…at a distance. I remained unobtrusive (what an achievement!). So far…hadn’t gone that far…just around the corner of the Convent building.
I hid at the corner behind a rhododendron bush and spied on the boy’s activities. I imagined he’d pull down his hood, light up a cigarette and take a few guilty puffs.
No chance. Better than that…
First, he glanced around. Guilty alright.
Then, without slipping his hood down, he dug in his track pants pocket, and pulled out a hand-held device. Probably a mobile phone. Not much use here on the Pilgrim Planet, void of satellites and mobile phone towers.
Using his thumb, he pressed the device a few times and held it to his ear. Works for him, I guess.
I remained still, trying to catch his words.
‘It’s me,’ he said and then paused, bobbing his head every so often. ‘Yes, I came the back way…Yes, they’re here…no one suspects…Yes, Father, I’m making progress with the girl…’
No, he’s not! What a creep!
The young man paced back and forth, his track pants sinking lower down his thighs revealing boxer shorts. ‘Told you, Father, they have no idea…They’re fools…We have this thing in the bag.’
He approached my corner. I crouched low.
He stood, a metre from me, but facing away.
I held my breath.
‘Don’t worry, Father, I have plenty,’ he said and laughed; a chesty cackle sort of laugh.
I froze. The same laugh as in my dream—the same laugh as Boris…Was this fellow the son of Boris? I trembled. He’s ugly enough.
The youth shoved the phone in his pocket. He fished around in his windcheater pocket and drew out a syringe. He loped over to a garden seat, and sitting down, he then pushed up his sleeve. As he tapped the needle, he took the opportunity to survey the scenery for any unwanted audience.
I shifted behind the wall and flattened my body against it.
The next time I poked my head around, he’d tightened a band around his upper arm and was squeezing the contents of the needle in his arm.
Knew it! Druggie! Perhaps he was speaking to his supplier before. Was his supplier, Boris, perhaps? No matter, must find Driver and tell her.
I left the spaced-out lad stretched over the seat and hurried inside to the chapel in search of Commander Driver.
At the back of the sanctuary, the penguin parade of nuns presided over a trestle table. They sipped their cups of tea and coffee and pecked at plain biscuits. Commander-Sister Salome Driver, dipped her bikkie in her tea and then sucked on the soggy crumbs.
I made a beeline for Driver.
‘Commander—Ma’am!’ I hailed her.
Driver suspended her biscuit-dipping and glared at me. ‘How dare you rudely interrupt our morning tea. What can be so important?’
‘You know, the guy with the hood.’
‘What guy with a hood? You’re not making any sense.’
I pointed in the direction of the dining room. ‘The boy who washes the dishes for you.’
‘I know of no such person,’ Driver said and then turned to her wimpled audience. ‘Does anyone know of a boy washing dishes for us?’
The crowd around her shook their heads and murmured amongst themselves.
She looked straight into my eyes. ‘I’m sorry, you must be imagining things. We have no kitchenhand—particularly not a boy. This is a female-only order.’
‘But I saw him. He’s outside—lying on the bench seat in the garden—high on drugs. I overheard him talking on his phone. I think he’s working for Boris.’
‘Well, now I’ve heard everything! I think your psychic powers have gone into overdrive. Sure it wasn’t a ghost?’
‘No, I mean, yes, I’m sure it wasn’t a ghost.’
Driver put down her teacup and half-eaten biscuit on the table. ‘Well, my dear, I think you must be over-tired and seeing things that aren’t there. What I suggest you do, is go to your room and have a little lie down before lunch.’ She gestured to a petite Grey alien. ‘Novice Scratch-It, would you accompany Holly here, to her room. Make sure she gets there safe and is not attacked by any Boris druggie agents.’
As the novice Grey guided me out of the tearoom, I overheard Driver remark, ‘Well, that takes the biscuit! You’d think if there were Boris spies lurking around here, I’d know. I have a good nose for anything Boris…’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature Photo: Fairy Penguin, Granite Island, Victor Harbor © L.M. Kling 1985; updated 2019
Curious how this adventure began?
Click on the links to my novels below and learn how this war on the alien cockroach Boris began and will continue…