Monday, 19 November 2012

What a long day (part 7)


Oscar Thornton did not make a habit of listening to other people's conversations. He also did not make a habit of answering the phone whilst at dinner, and he did make a habit (although not a conscious one) of being offended when other people were rude. Therefore, he had fewer qualms than normal about overhearing Delta's telephone conversation. It would have been a lot more effort to not listen, actually, because she was speaking as though the person on the other end were right in front of her, as though Oscar were not there at all.

“Hello?” she said first of all. Then, after a pause, she added excitedly, “Oh, it's you!” Then there were a few exchanges of seemingly nonsense words – perhaps this was come kind of code or inside joke. Next she filled the caller in on her present situation. “You should have called earlier, I'm in Germany now.” A pause. “No, they didn't send me here, the airline did. Apparently the plane was here so they put us all on a coach here.” Another pause. “No, don't worry, that's fine, I understand.” A few giggles. “Frog!” Did she just call the person on the other end Frog? Was she speaking to a Frenchman (Oscar wouldn't put it past her to be rude to foreigners) or was it a nickname? “I have to go now,” she announced suddenly. “Bye, see you soon.” She put the phone back in her bag.

“Sorry about that,” she said to Oscar. “A family friend who's a pilot. He's just landed in Austria and wondered if I wanted a lift. I told him it's too late because we're not there any more. It is Germany we're in, right?”

“That's right,” Oscar nodded. He didn't feel he could ask whether the caller's name really was Frog or if it had meant something else, or what they'd been talking about at the beginning of their conversation, because he wasn't really supposed to have been listening to any of it.

The next hour passed fairly uneventfully, for which Oscar would have been grateful, except that he just could not concentrate on reading his newspaper. He even tried doing the crossword, but he couldn't help worrying about what Delta had been telling him about over lunch, about this order she was a member of and the martial arts they did, the schools, the goddess and the wild geese. She was now sitting a few feet from him, by the window, with her earphones in, nodding along to the music whilst she looked in the direction of the window. He was perplexed by her. On the one hand she was so vulnerable and na├»ve – not knowing where Munich was, being concerned about her hair style – but on the other hand so dangerous – she had floored two policemen! He was no more calm about getting on a plane with her. But he was getting more curious.

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