Work in Progress – Todor Zhivkov’s 67th Birthday

Back into my archives for this one…here are some bits and pieces I was brainstorming while considering the anniversary of the assassination of Georgi Markov.


Oxenholme Station sits atop a hill overlooking the town of Kendal, and has done so without recognition since est., 1847. A place where a man in a fisherman’s sweater, flat-cap and ratty old field-bag would be a routine observation.  That said, would it be routine if the same man made the same arduous serpentine up to the green slate terminal almost every day for the last four years, rain or shine, reason or not? The specific days varying week by week, and month by month? This September morning had both rain and reason. Under a cooling air that signaled the arrival of Fall this man was expectant, excited, the train would be at the platform soon.


Approaching his destination a discordant symphony of aging tannoys announced the pending arrival of the 12:17 from Euston Station, London. Seven minutes. Jim maintained a casual gait, breathing, as he made for the east side of the station where the northbound train would soon arrive.


Several kilometers after departing the terminal Jim played out his role, feigning illness, unable to continue on.  He excused himself from the train at Penrith intent on returning to Kendal aboard the next southbound train.  At the last possible moment the passenger offered Jim an umbrella, a shield from the mist turned drizzle as the wind kicked up. The black umbrella tucked out of sight between the passenger’s seat and side of the cabin. Jim accepted the kindness apologizing one last time for having to abandon the day, leaving his guest to forge ahead alone.


With calling points at Carlisle, Lockerbie and Haymarket the passenger would change trains twice, clothes once and spend the night at a bed and breakfast once eighteenth-century farmhouse, long hair cut short, blue eyes no longer blue.


Resting in front of burning coals, scotch in hand, the guest prepared to examine in detail the contents.


Folded within the brownish wrapper was a series of maps that when sequenced detailed a crude line north through Scotland, crossing the Flow Lands of Caithness, the breeding ground of the dunlin, greenshank and golden plover. Caches flagged in the usual manner.


Plotting a course to the north-east the route terminated at land’s end, leaving to supposition an undocumented North Sea crossing from Peltland Firth to the Orkney Archipelago and onto Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen or Larvik. It didn’t matter.


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