No, I have not yet told you all there is to say about the closing of the Steampunk Explorer offices. Not quite.
It was a bit emotional that last day. I took down the displays in the Tamrannoch office and then left when the workers arrived to raze the building. I travelled to Babbage to see if I could lend Mr. Steampunk a hand in closing up the Academy of Industry office.
When I arrived the ground floor was empty but I heard him upstairs as he packed up his personal office. “May I come up Mr. Steampunk?” I hollered. “Of course, Mr. Chairman,” came the reply. As I entered the room he was sitting on the floor with files, drawings and maps all around him, placing each in several boxes by his side. “Just about finished, sir?” I asked, “Or can I be of help?” Mr. Steampunk looked up and tried to smile. “Would you like the desk, sir?” “Oh no, sir,” I said, “I can’t take your desk.” “But I know how you like it sir and I really have no place to put it now. Please take it or I’ll be stopping at the second hand shop to leave it behind,” he said. “Well, if you insist sir. Thank you very much. I’ll send for the delivery men. They can haul it to New Toulouse for me. I can use it at the new Jardin house. You can visit it,” I said as a joke. “I will sir,” he laughed.
He showed me some of the papers he was packing away and gave me a couple of his old reports as keepsakes. “We had good times in these offices sir,” he said. “The good times continue,” I said, “the group’s work is not over. The only difference is that now we’ll have our meeting at my pubs!” “That doesn’t sound half-bad sir,” he chuckled. “Come on. Let’s finish up and go for a pint,” I said.
We carried the boxes that were headed for the dump out the back door and stacked them up. Then passed through the empty ground floor one last time. As we walked out the front door, Boston turned and looked up at the windows where his office was. I think he was holding back a tear. I walked ahead to give him a moment.
“Are they still serving that stew at The Evergreen?” he asked as he caught up with me. “We are sir.” “Let’s go!” he said. We left Babbage by train bound for Caledon. We rode silently for a while. But then we began to reminisce about the early days of Steampunk Explorer and we recalled a number of funny stories and close calls and had quite a few laughs as the train sped along.
Once in Caledon we switched to the national line and embarked for SouthEnd. There I was to meet my cousin, Robertson Whitfield, at my Evergreen Pub. I was glad Boston was in a good mood as I did not want Robbie to walk into a virtual wake after his long journey.
When we got there we ordered two bowls of beef stew and two pints of ale and sat at the bar and wolfed that stew down. Packing up and travelling, all in one day, had built quite a hunger. Then another round of beer was ordered and the cigars were lit. “Boston, I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me with this group,” I started. “Nonsense sir,” he said and then blew a ring of smoke. “I mean it sir. I was a novice and you gave me an opportunity,” I said. He puffed on his cigar and looked out the window. “What a damned fool I was,” he said, then he turned sharply and looked right at me and burst into laughter. I started laughing so hard I had to stand up. “More beers barkeep!” he ordered.
When the beer came Boston turned to me and raised his glass, “To the future of the new Steampunk Explorer group!” We drank. Then he spoke quietly, “I can’t thank you enough either, Mr. Chairman, for all you have done.” “Sir, you are going to have to start calling me Danko,” I said. “Nonsense!” he shouted again in a jovial fashion. “But you mustn’t start until after my cousin has left. I want him to be impressed!” I added. And the laughter – and drinking – continued.
A short time later Boston was looking out the window as we talked. “Sir, I believe your cousin is here.” Robertson was looking through the window and he smiled and waved when he saw me. We both rose and I opened the door. “Robbie!” Welcome!” We shook hands, slapped backs, traded insults and then I introduced the two men to each other. I ordered Robbie some stew and a pint and Boston sat with us for awhile as we talked about Caledon, Babbage, Winterfell and women. Well, three men in a pub – what would you expect?
When Robbie finished his meal, Boston gave his goodbyes and we walked to the train. We went up to Cape Wrath to my seaside retreat at Whitfield Point, the same land on which our great-grandfather once had a fishing camp. It was Robbie’s first visit and he gave the house and the grounds two thumbs up. We stood on the balcony and watched the fog roll in over the ocean and talked of old times. “Don’t you own another pub near here?” Robbie asked at one point. “Up in Laudanum,” I said, “it’s not far at all.” I pointed to Mr. Greymyst’s estate across the water on the Laudanum side. “Shall we?” he said. “Sure!”
We walked down to the Winterfell Embassy and Terminal in downtown Wrath where we boarded the ferry for the ride north. We got off at Laudanum and headed for The Emerald Inn. After about an hour I walked down the street to my main residence while Robbie stayed behind for a nightcap. I made up the guest room for him and then went to my room and quickly conked out. This day was the end of a chapter in my life and a memorable one at that.