Monty Horn looked forward to today as his favourite guests were due for their annual holiday. He knew because the weather suddenly cleared up despite the weather forecasts, the annoying Seagulls and bin vultures moved, and the sea became idyllic. On the reservation list was the entry for Joan and Darby Rowbotham.
Promptly at ten am, 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; only the dated clothes and walking sticks made them stand out. In the ten years that 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.
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, Monty,' Darby said, 'we are prepared as usual, and it is good to have a change of pace from the farm.'
'Enjoy your stay, Helen will organise 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 while striding to the reception desk almost racing. 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 these days".
After driving over to their bungalow and unpacked the car to transfer 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. There was 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 luxury 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 made them look ridiculous and stomped inside 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 back inside, 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 or Fingle maybe,' Joan suggested.
They headed back to their bungalow, managing to enter the door ahead of a nasty shower. The pair made their way into the kitchen. First picking up their kit from the bags, they assembled a scrying bowl and a crystal ball on the table. The bowl was for Darby, and the ball was for Joan, entering a trance each consulted their favourite portal. There was 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 latent adepts wishing the worst on each other, with us stuck in the middle.'
'Okay I will approach the businessman, and if you can tackle the professor, 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 an invention to finance,' Darby said, 'Ah my man has a PhD in financial management and built a successful business.'
'And mine the same except he elected to be 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 and they could hear the squawking of the birds who had returned to the beach to scavenge for food.
'Well we have to settle the conflict before we can sort out the fallout,' Darby said with some regret.
A commotion erupted outside as the two antagonists met outside. Looking out, the two had encountered each other with neither willing to give way, 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 skin.
'Oops a bit much,' Darby laughed, giving Joan a pinkie shake.
The two men at this 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?'
'If I ask Monty to set them well apart, 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?'
'Certainly Darby. How can I help?'
'I have a request regarding Dr Klein and Professor Smart, could you split them up and seat them at opposite ends of the dining room?'
'I noticed how well they get on, not easy the favourite seats are in the middle. I can arrange the tables, and it will seem that there is more than one number one seat.'
'Joan and I are going to introduce ourselves separately and sort out the strife and distract the two. They won't see each other,'
'I would appreciate the help. Helen gets on well with Dr Klein, and Professor Smart thinks he is special if I handle his needs.'
With Monty on side and dinner hour approaching, waiters ushered the guests to their seats. Positioning 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 eager 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 pest 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.’
‘Waiter beware of the slippery patch,’ Darby said louder,
The waiter heard and slowed his path to avoid the puddle. He returned after delivery to clean up the patch.
‘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 credibilitywith the idea that it 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 call themselves; it may be that you are an abeyant one yourself.’
‘Now you are stretching my credulity, why and how would you know?’
‘Take some time and seclusion. Let me demonstrate 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 facedown, now name a card that wasn’t among them,’
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 all the Ace of Spades.
‘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.’
‘I hope this is a joke, yet I shall indulge you,’ Ian relaxed and thought of a sylvan landscape and was surprised that it appeared before him.
‘Good 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 undoes this.’
‘He seems to be there wherever I go; everything turns to mud when he is within sight. 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 place. If the two of 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 it seems idiots surround me, these need a dose of the same.’
‘With power comes responsibility.’ Darby advised.
Leaving Ian to ponder on the possibilities, Joan and Darby went to Tom’s cabin to repeat the process with 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 water bomb 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 we have restored things, 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