Pumpkin Carriage Driver

Drumlanrig Castle.

“It must have been named for these drumlins,” says my passenger. He’s an eminent scientist. He’s very old. His voice is quiet like a bird but I keep my ears peeled because his wisdom score is HIGH. If he was a Top Trump you wouldn’t want to go with Physical Strength or Comeliness. But you’d beat everyone on Wisdom.

“Looking at them, you can imagine an enthusiastic archaeologist hoping they’d find an ancient ship in one of them,” I hazard, channeling my Sutton Hoo. I know he’s into mud. Trying to key his subjects. He chuckles. “We went out to the Arctic because they thought they’d found where John Irving was buried,” he reminisces. “It was a perfect grave site. A perfect looking grave. The archaeologist was convinced that the crew must have gone to all the effort to dig it for him. We know he was one of the first to die.” I think of what I know of the doomed 1845 Franklin Expedition. Some half remembered story of hundreds of brave or dumb men in ships stranded by ice deciding whether to stay or go. One of those “What would you have done?” things, where the only true answer is ‘I would have died’. I try to imagine the freezing starving crew of an ice locked ship taking the time and effort to hack a barrow out of freezing pack ice for one of the dead fuckers that got them into the mess in the first place. I can’t picture it.

But… they found this drumlin in the Arctic near where the boat was lost and they thought it might be a burial mound for one of the unaccounted for souls. They were optimistic. Hopeful. It would have been the making of them, to find his grave. The crew probably actually ate him, but hope springs eternal. The archaeologists might get a book out of it if they were right. Lecture circuit. No more funding applications. Gravy-time. “Hi everybody, I’m a famous explorer.” *Thanks, my agent covers all the money stuff. Can I get a car to the hotel? Oh and the air conditioning is faulty.*

It was a freak of nature, not a barrow. Stones and ice action over millions of years. A perfect mound. With rocks in it and no body. Damn.

We arrive at the castle. There’s a party going on. Is that Ali playing the pipes? Christ, it is. There’s an Odyssey parked outside it. My scientist goes to the ball. I return to my car and head home before it turns back into a pumpkin and I turn back into a rat.

I’m in bed. The alarm is set for 5. I shall ceremoniously drink two teaspoons of Actifed in a moment and go back to that mad delightful place where I can fly and all sorts of things happen and it never holds in memory. Perhaps I’ll see you there again.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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