JAP and TR have been completely ignored for a bit one feels. So let us turn the spotlight of our immense fascination onto them. We left TR cowering in his seat with JAP pretending that TR was not being embarrassing, when in fact he was (y'know how those situations are, the there's-a-pink-elephant-sitting-next-to-me sort). Very. Before TR could get another word out, the car door on his side was wrenched open and a visibly flushed and breathless Ph piled in. "How could you both leave me and go? Huh?", she asked in between pants (the ones involving air and lungs, not the trouser sort). "Didn't I tell you? 'Let's leave, let's leave' I said. But oh no, we have to find pants" (the trouser sort), continued TR, still muttering defiantly under his breath. Baron JAP blustered gamely and with regrettable futility, "But beti, you know that this sort of thing is not suitable for a young, beautiful girl like you. No? Come, we don't have time to waste. So you go home and wait and we'll be back before you know it. Umm maybe you could have some hot tea waiting for us or something....." TR sank lower into his seat. Sometimes, he didn't know how Baron JAP had survived into his dotage.
Ph drew a breath, her eyes shot sparks of anger and resentment, and her bosom heaved (in an appropriately delicate (but totally non-feminine, which is not to say it was masculine-i *have* met men with heaving bosoms but that is beside the point-it was just extremely gender-neutral and very PC, by which I don't mean Phil Collins) way of course). Before she could launch into a speech on feminist rights, or even worse burn her choli, TR thought it wise to stem the flow. "Now, now, Ph darling, you know that we would love to have you with us. And I understand that RCW, your friend from childhood, your sister almost-" "Like Damon and Pythias", offered JAP in mumbled support of TR's brave attempt. "Yes, like D and P. Or even like that guy who came back as a ghost to visit his friend. Remember?" "Which one? Wasn't that D and P?" "No, of course not, my dear JAP. You have got it all mixed up. These two were Japanese. If I remember right." "Really? Japs? Hahahaha", laughed the Baron with a dash of the old Sean Connery charm of manner (really one does wonder how he made it into his dotage).
"If you've both quite finished", pronounced Ph in glacial accents, "maybe we could go and search for my friend who might be dying in a ditch for all we know?" TR had the grace to blush. The impatient tongue-clicking of Ph made both TR and JAP a tad bit nervous. "Maybe, we should just take her along", capitulated JAP (isn't it sweet how men always pretend that they have a choice?). "Fine, do whatever you want. It's your chase. I'm only in this for the ride", said TR cleverly pushing all responsibility onto JAP's shoulders (not for nothing had he slaved as a Professor for so many years). "Hey, it was your idea", protested JAP as he slid the Aston into gear and continued down the driveway.
TR's obstinate silence refusal to engage in conversation caused JAP to lapse into an ominously petulant silence. Ph, triumphantly maintained a stream of chatter (mostly reminiscing about her childhood spent frolicking with RCW around the countryside, which didn't help stem JAP's injured and now a tad bit appalled silence). They had been coursing along the highway for almost half an hour when Ph, spotting a restroom and refreshments exit yelled (over the radio, which she insisted on playing loudly - Westlife was gamely chirruping Uptown Girl at the moment to TR's acute pain and discomfort, the latter of which was exacerbated by his irresistibly flapping dressing robe attracting more than its fair share of comic attention from Ph - girls these days encapsulated TR's opinion of the situation)for JAP to stop the car. Which he almost did in the middle of the highway before TR managed in the last minute to remind him politely that they were in fact on a road populated by very many very fast-moving cars. "A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do", said Ph gaily, oblivious to the near death experience she had just survived (I have a theory that NDEs kill people by their very near-deathiness which is why there is so little verifiable evidence for or against them), "and right now this girl's gotta-" "Yes, yes, we get the picture", said TR hastily interrupting what promised to be awkward revelations. JAP pulled up at the service stop and the three of them trooped into the McD's that was flashing its message of peace, love and cholesterol bravely into the afternoon sunlight.
As the threesome disappeared through the revolving doors, a couple of girls whom we've gotten to know pretty well revolved out. RCW was by now as excited about the new car they were going to umm borrow as BM. In fact more so, cos BM seemed quite blase about the whole thing. They had been walking in the parking lot for 2 minutes (give or take - length of a minute depending on other stuff and so forth), when they both stopped short and sighed in chorus. Their eyes had almost simultaneously come to rest on a lovely little grey Aston Martin shimmering alluringly. This was it.