Robert's home

Robert flicked a switch to his left, lighting up a narrow hall. He ignored the first two doors, leading Johnathan through into a large, low-ceilinged room at the back of the house, where it was obvious he spent most of his time.

A kitchen area took up one side, spotlessly clean. A lone mug stood on the draining board beside the sink and an old-fashioned kettle waited on the stove, the kind that whistled when it boiled the water. The main part of the room was a living-area and workshop combined, again showing the same meticulous neatness. Robert apparently made tiny, detailed etchings of country cottages and woodland scenes. One half-finished etching lay on the scrubbed pine table next to a small selection of tools. It was a comfortable room even so. A couch covered with a red throw was set facing a real, open fire that caused dancing light to flicker over the walls in a lively, cheerful way. Johnathan felt some of his anxiety slip away.

"Tea or coffee?" Robert asked. "What can I get you? Or maybe you'd prefer something else? I've got beer, and I think a spot of whisky left somewhere."

"Tea would be great," Johnathan said. "Thanks."

As Robert busied himself making the drinks he took a walk around the room. Roberts prints were hung in a line at eye-height all around the walls, as if they were in a gallery.All of them, with only one exception, were landscapes. This exception was a portrait and Johnathan instantly recognized his father as one of the four people in the picture. His Dad, younger than he himself was now, definitely under twenty-five.

In the picture Dad had his arm, disconcertingly, around a woman who obviously wasn't Mum. She was smiling, fair and pretty in a hippy sixties style dress. The other two were men, and Johnathan recognized one as a younger Robert.

"Sixty-seven," Robert said from just behind him. "Summer of love."

Johnathan turned and took the mug that was being held out to him. It warmed his hands and he blew on it. "Thanks. That's you and my Dad?"

"Took it from a photo. I'm not so good at portraits. It's not my thing."

"Who are the other two?"

Roberts expression became distant, remembering. "Ginny, that's Virginia, and Felix. Bella wasn't in the snap, don't recall why now. I don't think it was her that took it. The tops of our heads aren't cut off. We were friends, that's all, the five of us."

"Dad said you have something for me?" Johnathan asked, as Robert said nothing further.

"Why don't we sit down? Finish our tea first. The things are in the attic."

"Summer of Love?" Johnathan said after another silence. "I didn't know Dad was on any kind of scene, ever. He always made out to us he was the perfect paragon."

Robert laughed at this. "No harm in that. Setting a good example for the kids. Come to hear a few stories about your Dad too? I could tell you some stuff."

"I'd love to hear it," Johnathan said.

"Maybe another time," Robert said, his mood changing abruptly for no reason Johnathan could fathom. "Maybe later, tomorrow. How's about we turn in? I can make the bed up for you in the spare room. In fact, I'll do it now while you're finishing up."

"Okay," Johnathan said. Robert hadn't waited for his reply however, and Johnathan's answer was cut off by the click of the closing door.

The End

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