Walked into a bar....no that is another story. This one begins at a beach resort.
Monty Horn looked forward to today, his favourite guests were booked in for their annual holiday. He first knew because the weather suddenly cleared up despite the weather forecasts, the annoying Seagulls and Bin vultures migrated and the seas became idyllic. When he read the reservation list there was the entry for Joan and Darby Rowbotham.
Promptly at Ten am an almost silent whisper announced the arrival. Monty was waiting in the foyer to escort them to the reception. A classic Rolls-Royce glided to a stop in front of the hotel and two figures alighted, at first glance only the dated clothes and walking sticks made them stand out. In the ten years, Monty had managed the resort the couple hadn't aged a day. While the clothes were as new it was from the fashion of the Fifties. Later when they settled in they would appear in holiday fashion of the Sixties.
When Monty had started, the retiring manager had praised the Rowbothams as jewels to be given every courtesy, commenting that in the twenty years of his employment they had been just the same.
'Good morning Mr and Mrs Rowbotham, welcome to the Beachcomber,' Monty said, 'My staff will see that everything is peaceful for your stay.'
'Darby please Mr Horn,' Darby said, 'We are prepared as usual and it is good to have a change off the farm.'
'Enjoy your stay, Helen will smooth your visit,' Monty said.
Helen signed them in and gave them the keys to the bungalow where they usually stayed.
As they were leaving an odd pair came in glaring at each other before striding to the reception desk racing without making it obvious. Helen spotted them coming and gestured to Monty to handle one while she dealt with the other.
As Darby and Joan walked back to their car the shouting began behind them. Glancing at each other they shrugged to say "what's the world coming to today".
Driving over to their bungalow they unpacked the car and transferred their luggage inside ready to emerge in holiday mode. If someone had been watching perhaps they would have noticed that the suitcases drifted by themselves inside and the time for the pair to be ready for the beach was less than a minute. No time wasting with these holidaymakers. As it was they had barely cleared the road across to the beach, when the first car slammed past parking next door and the other car skidded to a halt on the other side. Both were new sports cars loud and flashy. From the first arrival a man in a business suit jumped out and from the second a man in a tweed suit epitomising an academic alighted. It seemed that it was more important to glare at each other than to have fun. Both realised the standoff was ridiculous and stomped inside their cabins carrying their bags.
Joan and Darby continued on their walk and were soon enjoying the beach. However, storm clouds started building on the horizon.
'Well it seems all our hard work is becoming unravelled,' Darby said, 'When we get home we will have to investigate.'
'Darn, we came here to get away from work,' Joan said, 'If someone is sabotaging our holiday, I will singe their whiskers.'
'Anyone in mind who has whiskers?' Darby asked.
'Agnes and Fingle maybe,' Joan mused.
Heading back to their bungalow before any weather could catch them. Entering the door just ahead of a nasty shower the pair made their way into the kitchen. First recovering their kit from the bags they assembled a scrying bowl and a crystal ball on the table. The bowl for Darby and the ball for Joan, entering a trance each consulted their favourite portal. No need for gestures and mumbo-jumbo as they had no audience to impress or confuse.
'Ah there is an aura from the unit to the left,' Joan said.
'I have one from the right,' Darby said, 'We have a pair of abeyant adepts wishing the worst on each other; with us stuck in the middle.'
'Okay I will approach the suit-guy and if you can tackle the prof, we may unravel the mess,' Darby said.
'Okay I will research the academic introducing myself as a fellow,' Joan said, 'I knew keeping touch with the faculty would come in handy.'
'And I will be the respected rancher with some money to invest,' Darby said, 'Ah my man has a doctorate in financial management and built a successful business.'
'And mine the same except he elected to remain as an academic,' Joan said, 'Classmates and competed for the postgraduate spots with your man having to approach another university to complete the doctorate.'
The pair became involved in their subject making notes to learn their soft spots and possible approaches. Outside the storm had past but they could hear the squawking birds who had returned to the beach to scavenge for food.
'Well we have to settle the conflict before we can sort out the result,' Darby said with some regret.
As they worked, a commotion erupted outside as the two combatants met just outside. Looking out the two had encountered each other with neither willing to step around, seeming to step in a dance mirroring the movements of the other.
Darby gestured and a bubble of water appeared over each head. Joan had the same idea and the volume doubled before descending on both men drenching them to the shin.
'Oops a bit much,' Darby laughed. Giving Joan a pinkie shake.
The two men forgot their tussle and retreated to their cabins looking like drowned cats each blaming the other for the discomfort.
'Perhaps we can approach them at tea?' Joan said.
'Perhaps if I word Monty in to set them well apart,' Darby said, 'As long as they don't wish to have the same best seat.'
Darby made his way back to the hotel and sought out the manager.
'Monty,may I have a word?' Darby asked.
'Certainly Darby. How can I help?' Monty said.
'A strange request, these two Mr Klein and Professor Smart, any chance to split them up and seat them at opposite ends of the dining room?' Darby asked.
'I noticed how well they get on, not easy the prime seats are in the middle,' Monty said,then considered, 'I can arrange the tables so it seems that there is more than one number one seat.'
'Joan and I are going to introduce separately and sort out the strife and angle the two so they don't see each other,' Darby said.
'I would appreciate the help, Helen gets on well with Mr Klein and Professor Smart thinks he is special if I handle his needs,' Monty said.
With Monty on side and dinner hour approaching, waiters ushered the guests to their seats. Locating the two antagonists so that furniture and plants blocked the view of each other, and there were spare seats alongside.
Darby approached his man first, ‘Dr Klien I have been trying to speak to you, do you mind if I sit with you? Darby Rowbotham, I run a grazing property.’
‘By all means, I wouldn’t like a bore plonked beside me. I have heard of you. I am Ian.’
‘I have some investments in mind, and I would like your opinion. If you don’t mind that is?’
‘I have a few minutes before the first course arrives, would take my mind off the weather.’
‘I have designed several vermin repulsers for the farm, while everyone finds them interesting, the factory to make them is just a little expensive.’
‘I suppose I can take a look later, here is the first course.’
‘Did you notice the spill on the floor? Now if we needed entertainment, we wouldn’t mention it, the downside this would delay our meals.’ Louder, ‘ Waiter beware of the slippery patch.’
The waiter heard and slowed his path to avoid the puddle, returning later to mop it up.
‘I think you just avoided having your soup arrive a little early. Now I have a theory as to why it happened, would you care to hear?’
‘You have my attention, all sorts of silly things have happened today, I had a bath out of clear air earlier.’
‘May I test your credibility with the idea that the spill wasn’t an accident?’
‘If it solves the puzzle.’
‘Has the possibility of witchcraft entered your mind?’
‘It seems that everywhere I go minor mishaps occur, nothing too dramatic, just tickles my curiosity.’
‘I happen to know that there are witches or wise people as they prefer to be called, it may be that you are a latent one yourself.’
‘Now you are stretching the facts, why and how would you know?’
‘Take some time and seclusion to explain, allow me to do a magic trick, it may convince you that I know what I am talking about.’ Darby took a pack of cards out of his pocket and shuffled them before fanning them out to show the faces.
‘A standard pack, now select five and after looking at them place them face down, now call a card that wasn’t among them,’ Darby picked up the remainder of the pack and placing it in plain sight.
Ian did so a little puzzled, ‘The ace of spades.’
‘Now turn any,’ Ian did so, and it was the ace of spades. To confirm he turned over the others and they were as he had laid them.
‘Beats me how you did that.’
‘After tea perhaps if I call into your cabin and bring some equipment?’
By now Joan had reached the same point and received an invite to Tom Smart’s cabin later with Darby. He had advised Joan that he called himself Tom as Maxwell had comedic implications.
The two visits were timed to allow the couple to visit each, Joan acting as the moderator.
When they had settled with Ian, they began their delivery, ‘Shall we start with an experiment? Look into this dish of water and relax and let the scene appear of a calm memory from your childhood.’
‘If this is a joke I would be disappointed, yet I shall indulge you,’ Ian relaxed and thought of a sylvan landscape and was surprised that it appeared before him.
‘Excellent, that confirms your ability. Would it surprise you that Professor Smart also has this ability and you have been blaming each other for the calamities that seem to follow you? It also means you tend to duplicate your schedules and run into each other as well. My interest is that Joan and I have worked hard to ensure the best weather would be waiting, your antagonistic behaviour has disrupted the charm.’
‘He seems to be there wherever I go; everything turns to mud when he is within sight. So what can I do about it?’
‘Joan and I will now try to engage Tom in the same lesson; perhaps he will see reason and make friends or at least stop the bad thoughts that muddy the ether. If you can relax, Joan and I will restore the climate, and we all can enjoy the holiday. I should apologise for the bath we gave you, but you needed to cool off.’
‘I accept the apology as long as I learn the trick, at times idiots surround me, and need a dose.’
‘With power comes responsibility, I now need to speak to Tom.’
Leaving Ian to ponder on the possibilities, Joan and Darby went to Tom’s cabin to repeat the process, Tom first disbelieving then tickled by the humour.
‘To think that I thought that all these years we had been the authors of our own discomfit. I suppose I should apologise and resume the friendship we shared when we first met. The waterbomb trick that caught both of us did you have something to do with that?’
‘I am afraid so, once I apologised to Ian, he thought it was a great joke. He will probably talk to you and sort things out. Once things are restored, I can make up for the bath by teaching some of the craft.’
Joan and Darby adjourned to their cabin to restore the enchantment for the perfect holiday.
Ian and Tom were sitting at the kitchen table where Joan and Darby had assembled mysterious arcane equipment.
'Some of this is for show and setting the mood,' Darby said, 'The mood is necessary to allow the operator's mind freedom to concentrate on the mind formula.'
The students settled in for the first lesson,