It’s difficult and uncomfortable to fit three people into the back of a taxi, Patrick thinks, especially if one of those people is himself. Years of indulgence in finer things (a very good brandy, an even better foie gras, and more, always more) have given him an embonpoint to be proud of... and he is proud, rather.
But this logistical fact is why he calls for a limousine, right after he calls for a service to pick up his carrack and return it to his home. Then, once he puts away his mobile, he tunes back into the world – into the slap of the Thames against the riverwall, the breeze, the calls of the birds, and the eternal noise of Terry and James. The ones without dreams of their own, who’ve shared his for longer than he thinks they know.
James has found a cigarette from somewhere on his tall person, has the fag in his mouth, got out the embossed lighter he bought on a Bond Street shopping whirl with Patrick. The fire wavers in the breeze off the river.
"Could you choose a better time to light up?" Terry says, in a golden-boy snap he’s been working on since university, at once privileged and peevish. "It’s hardly done, after one has committed oneself to a high adventure, after one has chosen to look beyond oneself...."
"What?" James says somewhat indistinctly, his lips still tight around the cigarette. "What are you on about?"
"We’ve just committed ourselves to the dream, James! We have rowed, like men of old... I mean, yore, not ‘old,’ obviously... down a historic path, recaptured the manhood our modern world has lost–"
James doesn’t like the reference to manhood, which Patrick could have predicted. "What are you on about? Because I don’t see that a fag now and again invalidates the journey, and honestly, all my equipment works fucking fine now."
A perfect choice of intensifier, Patrick thinks, and he leans over the wall to protect his smile. They don’t enjoy being laughed at, he tries to hide his amusement whenever he can.
Terry snorts, expelling derision. "Get your mind off your reconstructed todger and onto the things that matter. We should be seeking purity–"
"Not sodding likely," James mutters.
"Purity of spirit," Terry says. "Clarity. You probably don’t understand what clarity is, I do realize that, you don’t even have a bloody dream of your own."
And Patrick looks down at the water, watches the tidal rise of water against the wall. Caught in the current, they all are, and finding clarity is such a difficult thing, as tricky as finding happiness.
But he is happily sore from the building and the exercise of rowing (not that he didn’t let James and Terry do most of that, because of course he did). Part of him is centred here in his body, a little hungry, thirsty, tired.
Part of him is still in the current, letting the river take him where it will. Maybe that will be what’s left of his yearning after this day is gone. He looks into deep rushing water, listening to the eternal noise of Terry and James.
Terry says hotly, "You must honour the moment, embrace the dream!"
"What?" says James.
Patrick feels himself float, swift as the tide.