The Red Cow

It was my first day at Larksmeade Lawn, where I teach Wednesday activities.

The headmaster’s idea for Authors Club failed. Only two kids signed up. Try selling an author’s club at a dyslexic school.

Larksmeade was that school we passed in the car on the way to the Town when I got back to Britain. I seemed to remember it from somewhere. It reminded me of the set of Never Let Me Go, the Kazuo Ishiguro movie that brought me to tears in another life.

I tried to poach some kids from Cartoon Club to save my activity. “Sir, Sir, are you an author?” said one kid brightly. No. I’m a failed author. But I can teach that.

After activities I arranged a drink with Mark. Mark taught guitar and Cartoon Club.

We went to the Red Cow. This was the pub on the corner in the village. It seemed like a place you wanted to go into.

There was a painting of an obscure head inside the doorway. We sat on a sofa opposite two old men.

Mark wanted to talk about women. He told a story about a young teacher at the school he thought he liked. Finally they arranged time outside school. When he picked her up she told him about how she had had sex with a stranger in a canal boat the night before. He told me not to tell anyone.

We talked about Tinder. I said the whole thing was a waste of time. It detracted from your soul. He agreed with that. But he used it. It turned out Mark was a bit of a Casanova. I could see that. I only knew he had a serious girlfriend. He was a musician and a portrait artist. Mark was good with the kids. He wanted to tell me about his regrets.

I didn’t have any regrets. Except T.S. Eliot. Mark wanted to hear about my sexcapades in the South of France, in a former nunnery. Every time I opened my mouth a movie came out.

I decided to give up on T.S. Eliot and write my own life. That was what it had been all about before I became swept up in Britain’s paranormal legend.

“Why didn’t you stay forever?” he asked. In the hostel. I wasn’t welcome. After the murder.

I told him about the weird things that happened after I had sex on the altar there. Like in the movie the Omen. That brought us to the religious side of things.

A black cat slunk over. Its fur was all wet. Mark fussed over it so the barmaid towelled it off for him. His name was Jasper.

Mark was fussing over him but Jasper came over to me. I liked Mark and was glad I met him.

I told him about the cat I had seen the day before. It was a stripy ginger cat that slunk under a parked car and stared at me in a ball. The thought crossed my mind it was Mrs. Magonagall. I had just been writing about how Harry Potter bisected with my scrape with T.S. Eliot and his conspiracy.

Jasper sat in my lap. He went away but later came back and curled up in my lap permanently.

Mark was a doubter. I thought I met Mark for a reason, but he wasn’t aware of the whole design. I reminded him about the Harry Potter thing and how it mirrored things that happened in the real world.

The only proof was the cat in my lap. T.S. Eliot wrote CATS.

It seemed, then, that there was a religious design behind all things, and everything was going exactly as it should be.

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