Edward Wayland – The Road Back 7 – the conclusion


The final entry for The Road Back. Edward meets with Abigail who has a proposal. It’s not London, but it is an opportunity to do work and to recover a bit at the same time.

Author’s note

This is a long entry, but I think seven sections for a short story is enough. The story’s genesis came from my editor/wife. In the next chapter of The Omicron Matter, Edward has a small part in a scene in Dunstable. Ever the continuity maven, she immediately said, “How did he get there?” followed with “You should write a story explaining that.” It was a fun story to write and a bit cathartic in places. The engineering firm is a very inside joke for me.

Thanks for your support

A New Option

Abigail came back into the kitchen at 2:30 and poured her own glass of wine.  She said, “We were interrupted, Edward. So…why did you come here?”

Edward’s eyes grew misty again but he pushed on, “Before I met Smith, I had a job lined up at Chapman, Bressey, and Dent.”

Abigail whistled and said, “Fine firm. They do good work.”

Edward said, “Yes. Well I missed the first day of work and then another…My recruiter stopped by my home to find out what was happening, but my parents didn’t know where I was. It appeared I was lost on some frivolous jaunt…the job is gone and they are no longer interested in me.”

Abigail said simply, “And other firms will have their positions filled and questions about your gap.”

Edward smiled sadly and said, “I haven’t tried, but word gets around in these matters.” He shrugged and said, “I supposed I could take a drafting job for a couple of years and work my way up.”  Abigail made a non-committal grunt. He said, “Jason and John will have a good time joshing me about that.”

Abigail said, “And Millicent will thump them soundly when they do. I might know somebody who knows somebody. But it’s not London.”

Edward was quiet for a moment and said, “I’ve been a bit of recluse for the past few days. I am sure the society gossips have their tongues wagging. A break might be good.”

Abigail said, “Stephan is like me so you can talk to him as well.  But he knows how to keep secrets too.”

Edward  straightened up and pulled out his piece of paper and said, “Millicent mentioned a ‘Stephan’”

Abigail said, “Bear of a man. Heart to match. Absolutely brilliant on large mechanics. And he runs an exceptional pub.”

Edward laughed at the description and said, “And how will he help me?”

Abigail smiled, “Dunstable has a substantial factory. I would be astonished if Stephan didn’t have at least a nodding acquaintance with the owner.  He’ll understand your situation and be able to vouch for you. Oh he’ll run you through your paces before he does that, but he’ll vouch if you are good enough for Millicent to want you. What are your specialties?”

Edward said, “Aeronautics and chemistry.”

Abigail said, “Emphasize aeronautics, but keep up on the chemistry. The Dunstable factory handles goods mostly and probably doesn’t have much use for chemistry. But it will. Besides, you’ll be valuable elsewhere in time.”

Edward said, “So I go on a lark again?”

She shrugged and said without malice, “Everybody already thinks you’re fly-by-night…I’d say it’s this or start where Jason, John and Rachael were destined. You and I both know how easy it is to move up the ranks from there.” Edward grimaced.  She continued, “Besides you can talk to Stephan about the nightmares and he’ll make sure no one else asks.”

Edward said, “Just like that?”

Abigail put a hand on his arm and he flinched, but it stayed and she said, “You’re wounded, lad. Simone and Eleanor had two weeks in that shop of horrors and they are only beginning to recover. They have friends and each other to support them. You had months with Smith and his sadistic minions and you have no one.  If you aren’t drinking or doping now, you will be soon just to sleep through the night. Then you will have a new hell. Stephan will keep your head on straight. “

He laughed, “A pub owner?”

She said seriously, “Who knows better? Besides, he has seen far more than you can imagine – good and bad.”

He sighed and said, “It’s not like I’ve got much to do here now…And I did get a tidy sum from Millicent. There is enough to get by for a few months if things don’t work out.”

Abigail slapped his knee and leaned back and said, “That’s the spirit.”

The evening crept on and finally he bade the three farewell. When he got home, he sat in the study again. Rigel came in and asked, “Refreshment, sir?”

Edward said, “I will wait and…have some wine with dinner.”

Rigel said, “Of course, sir,” and made to leave.

Edward, “Rigel, wait a moment…when this all started, you tried to warn me…you were right, of course, the man was not to be trusted.”

Rigel closed the door, faced Edward, and said, “One has the benefit of experience, Sir. Sadly, you have a very large batch of experience now.” He paused and said, “There was no job, was there sir?”

Edward said, “No…I can’t say I blame them. I would do the same in her shoes. After my meeting, I went for a coffee at a recommended place. I had a chance to talk to someone about the last few months.”

Rigel said, “You can’t do that here?” It came as a question, not an accusation.

Edward said, “What happened was bad, but I saw and experienced things that would sound crazy if I told you. This woman has seen the same things and she knew what happened to me.”

Rigel bowed a little and said, “Then I am pleased you found them.”

Edward said, “There is another person in Dunstable who also has some experience and could help me.”

Rigel said sternly, “Did you sign anything?”

Edward laughed harshly and said, “No…and he is a pub owner who is probably advising a factory owner.”

Rigel said quietly, “How very curious.”  He said, “Your return has been difficult for you and the rest of the household. A holiday in the country might suit you well. However, I would recommend an assistant. Someone to make sure you are seeing what you need to see.” He looked at his fingernails and said, “I have some time built up and could use a break.”

Edward said, “Rigel, this is Dunstable and you would be looking after me. That is hardly the holiday you deserve.”

Rigel said, “The victuals will be hardy and I can take country walks while you settle into any job that might come up.”

Edward came over put a hand on Rigel’s shoulder put another out to shake and said, “Thanks… Thanks old man. I could use a bit of a tether until I get my feet again.  I won’t say no. I won’t say no at all.”

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