David and Paul had both been to a college reunion, though they were of
different generations. Paul was in his mid-20s, and David about twice that
age. They had spent the evening chatting to their respective contemporaries,
and had much enjoyed the food and drink. They were amongst the last to
leave, and spoke for the first time as they collected their coats from the
cloakroom. By way of polite conversation, David asked Paul if he had far to
“Just outside Hatbridge,” said Paul, “But I left my car at the station and
came in by train.”
“Well,” said David, “I go near Hatbridge on my way home – can I offer you a
lift to your car?”
Paul jumped at the chance of avoiding a wait on the platform on that cold
February night, and gladly accepted the lift. Soon they were leaving the
city suburbs behind them, and were on the open road, chatting happily about
their times at the College, and telling each other tales of some of the
staff and students of their two generations. Half an hour later they found
themselves on the outskirts of Hatbridge. By this time David was feeling
very uncomfortable from the effects of all the liquid he had consumed. He
had another twenty minutes or so to drive after dropping off Paul, and he
knew he would have to stop for a pee soon.
“I’m going to have to look for a toilet soon,” he told Paul. “Is there one
at the station?”
“It’ll be locked by now,” Paul replied, “But I need one pretty desperately,
too. I was just plucking up the courage to tell you that I need to stop.”
At this moment they saw a sign pointing to a shoppers’ car-park.
“There’s bound to be one in the town centre,” said Paul, “Why don’t we stop
They parked the car and walked carefully to the shopping precinct. The place
was deserted – it had a run-down look about it, and some of the shops were
boarded up. It all looked very bare and desolate in the bright sodium
lighting. But there was no sign of a toilet.
“I’m going to have to find somewhere soon,” said David. “Me too,” admitted
Paul, “In fact it’s got so painful I must just sit down a moment.”
They both sat on a low wall surrounding a patch of soil which had once
contained shrubs and flowers, but served more as a litter bin than anything
else now. They were shivering slightly in the cold night air.
“I wonder of there’s a dark alley anywhere,” asked Paul.
“Everywhere’s so brightly lit, that’s the trouble with these shopping
precincts,” David observed. I expect there are TV cameras around, too, so
that would be risky.”
As David turned to look at Paul, he saw that he had gone very pale in the
face, and that he was shivering more than David would have expected.
“Are you OK, Paul?”
Paul didn’t reply. He just quickly looked down at the ground in front of
him. David followed his glance, and was amazed to see a little stream of
water trickling away from the wall where Paul was sitting, which slowly
meandered along the pavement, picking up dust and bits of dry leaves as it
went. As soon as David, who was already putting huge amounts of will-power
into containing himself, realised what Paul was doing, the effect was
dramatic. He just had to let go, and soon there was a second parallel stream
running away from the wall. David looked at the stream in amazement, and saw
that Paul was looking at it too, with a rather strange expression on his
After about three minutes, Paul stood up and said, “Well, I think I’ll walk
to my car from here. It’s not far.”
David followed him, walking awkwardly as the coldness of his trousers
suddenly hit him. He noticed that the seat of Paul’s suit trousers was
soaking wet, and the wetness extended down almost as far as the backs of his
knees. On arrival at David’s car, they said goodnight. Neither of them
mentioned what had just happened – each was too embarrassed to make any
comment to the other.
“It was a good evening,” said David, “And I enjoyed our chat about our days
at College. We must meet up for a drink some time and mull over old times
Paul said that he would enjoy that, and made a note of David’s phone number
in his diary.
A couple of days later David’s phone rang. Paul was on the line.
“I’m sorry about that business in Hatbridge after you’d given me the lift
the other evening. I hope it wasn’t my fault that you found yourself in the
“Well, I must admit that if I’d been driving alone, I’d have probably
stopped by the roadside before we got to Hatbridge,” David admitted, “But,
you know, I had a strange feeling of mischievous pleasure while I was
sitting on that wall, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I got
“I’m glad you said that,” Paul responded, “Because, believe it or not, I
felt just the same. That’s why I didn’t say anything – my mind was working
in so many directions at the same time. I can actually remember thinking
that it was not really the weather for that sort of thing, as though it
would be OK at any other time!”
“Well,” said David, “Maybe we should get in touch when it gets a bit
And they did! But that’s another story.