Cherringham - Blade in the Water
Cherringham - Blade in the Water
2. A Real Mystery
Jack slid the bacon and fried eggs out of the pan onto his plate, then topped the lot with a toasted bagel and headed out of the little galley of the Grey Goose and up the steps onto the sunlit deck.
Bit of a splurge for the arteries. Eggs, bacon.
But once a week wouldn't hurt.
"C'mon Riley," he said to his Springer.
But Riley didn't need telling, when there was the chance of a bit of that bacon to be had, and the dog bounded after him.
Although still early, the sun was already hot, and in his bare feet Jack could feel the warmth in the wooden deck. He put the plate down on his shiny new garden table, next to the butter and jam and hoisted the deck's sunshade.
Then, a gentle press of the cafetiere, and he poured his coffee into a big French cup he'd picked up when he'd toured Normandy last week in his little sports car.
Seventy years later, and looking at the beaches, the lines of crosses ...
Knowing that it wasn't just the gusty wind in his face that made him tear up.
He could see Riley sitting patiently now to one side of the table.
Jack took a sip of coffee and relished the view.
Up and downstream the other barges and boats were all decked out - like the Goose - in red, white and blue flags. The Cherringham Regatta colours.
His own NYPD pennant from back home flew proudly from the top of the little flagpole at the stern.
And in the far distance, on the other side of the bridge, he could just see the tops of the marquees, where most of the Regatta events would take place.
A long straight stretch of river with solid banks and open access lay on the far side of that bridge - perfect for the racing and the festivities to come at the weekend. Better than this meandering section upriver where the barges were moored nose to tail.
He took a mouthful of egg then opened the Cherringham Times - the most old-fashioned newspaper he'd ever read outside a museum - and started to search for the Regatta schedule.
This is the life, Jack Brennan, he thought.
For a moment he had a pang of wishing there was someone to share this moment with ...
Not just someone. His Katherine.
But he had got good at pushing those thoughts away, and he took another forkful of bacon and eggs and did his best to think of something else.
A weekend on the river, sunshine forecast for five days, no chores, no worries.
The only hard work he had was to figure out which events he'd watch, where he'd have lunch, and which bar he'd head to in the evenings.
Does it get any better?
From his experience last year, he'd figured where the different crowds hung out. Old money tended to party in the grand houses downstream whose wide lawns reached down to the Thames - or aboard the floating 'gin palaces' which moored up below them.
The real boaties, though, headed up to the Angel where - last year - rumour had it they'd drunk the place dry. No easy feat that!
Meanwhile, folks lower down the social scale (and Jack happily placed himself there) congregated up at the Ploughman's or in the beer tent by the bridge.
Suited him just fine.
Jack finished his plate and laid it on the floor next to Riley for its 'pre-wash' before going in the dishwasher.
Then he leaned back with his coffee and the newspaper to plan the upcoming weekend.
And that was as far as he got.
A bicycle bell sounded loudly from the path down river.
He looked up - a woman was cycling fast, and unsteadily, up the path towards him.
As he watched, she waved and sounded the bell a