Bournemouth evolved into a seaside resort because of the natural beauty of its cliffs, the wide sweep of its bay, the sandy beach, coastal location and outstanding breadth of view and openness. Ultimately, it boiled down to one inalienable fact. Namely, people wanted to bathe in the sea.
One suitcase in hand, Otto stepped out onto the train platform. His focus had nothing to do with bathing in the sea. Nor had it anything to do with basking in the sun as a tourist. He barely felt the passengers bump against him while he stood and gazed about. The possibility of work had in part brought him here. When the train left and the station cleared of people, he picked up his suitcase and exited the terminal.
“Are you in need of help? You appear lost.”
He glanced back at the station master. “I’m doing just fine.” He put down his suitcase. “Can you direct me to the town’s pub?”
The station master replied, “Follow the road straight ahead for about a quarter mile. You can’t miss it.”
Otto stepped closer to him. “It’s a lovely city you’ve got.”
“Aye. That it is.”
“You wouldn’t by any chance know an Alexander Collier? I knew him by the name Sandy.”
“Maybe the pub’s owner, Jock Mahoney, can help you with that. By the way you carry yourself you must be an ex-soldier.”
“That obvious is it? That’s how I met Lieutenant Collier. He was my platoon leader.”
“Lost a son in that damn war.” He cleared his throat. “You good with your hands?”
“I don’t shy away from a hard day’s work, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“That’s what I’m asking. ‘Homes Fit for Heroes.’ Heard of it?”
“I can’t say I have.”
“It’s a campaign to provide decent housing for soldiers like yourself, returning from war. Homes are being built in the northern part of Bournemouth. Maybe there’s an opening. Anyway, tell Jock I’ve been talking to you.” He stepped closer. “Word of advice don’t get on his wrong side. He’ll test you, though.”
“I didn’t catch your name.”
“Quentin, Quentin Hogg. What’s yours?” He extended his hand.
“Archibald, but you can call me Archie.”
“No last name?” Quentin smiled at him. “I see. Keep your cards close to the chest. That’s okay. Play darts?”
“I’ve been known to.” Archie replied with a slight hesitation. He picked up his suitcase and began to walk away.
“Every Saturday night, a group of us get together at the pub,” Quentin called out. “You’r...