“He prefers to leave no impact if possible,” said Jonathan with a slight smile. “It’s not quite the opposite of our aims because he does want to change the world, but he wants his life itself to be completely forgotten, with nothing left behind, not even footprints—and especially not carbon ones.”
Rich didn’t get the joke at first, but pretended he did and busied himself with eating to cover up for the fact. When it eventually permeated his brain he allowed himself to laugh quietly, so that the others didn’t hear and ask awkward questions. That would just be too embarrassing.
“So where is he meeting us?” he asked, taking another bite. It really was very good food … excellently home cooked and just crispy enough on the base while being soft and flavoursome on top.
“Here,” replied Linda, looking at her watch. “He said he should make it by about half past one, so we haven’t long to wait. Just enjoy your food and relax; we won’t be leaving just yet, in order to give the driver a little bit of a rest. None of us are qualified to drive such a long vehicle! It’s absurd, but true.”
“I see,” Rich responded, and looked out of the windows. “Is that him, there?” He pointed, and following the line of his finger one would see an eccentrically dressed man crossing the car park with a look of disgust on his face as he took in the sight of so many vehicles parked like sardines.
“That would be him,” Jonathan confirmed.
Moments later, the man entered the restaurant. A few of the other diners—for there were several, although they were seated some way from this strange group—broke out in whispers. He wore bottle green canvas trousers that ended just in time to reveal a pair of broken and worn sandals, encasing dusty feet. His shirt was white, of rather an old-fashioned style, and was complemented by an orange-brown waistcoat, rather plain if it hadn’t been for the gold and silver buttons with which it was done up.
Over this strange attire he had a jacket. It was a strange length, reaching halfway down his thighs, and seemed to consist mostly of pockets. Though it was undone it looked plenty warm, and the man was sweating slightly. A gold chain, contrasting strongly with the brown fabric, protruded from one of the pockets.
Jonathan got to his feet and walked over, embracing the man whole-heartedly. “Alan!” he said, cheerfully. “So glad you could make it. Come, I’m sure you’re not too late to eat with us. I know you prefer cold food, so it shouldn’t take too long to rustle you up something.” He brought his brother over to the table. “This is Rich. I told you about him.”
“Rich. Hello.” Immediately, Rich saw Jonathan had meant when he said that Alan had kept the accent.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said, shaking hands with the new arrival. The waiter scurried over once more, took Alan’s order and returned to the kitchen. The three returned to their seats, where Linda, Matthew and Davide greeted their old friend.
“Now that we’re all here, I think it’s time we told Rich exactly why we brought him here.”