Morgan’s mother Hilary was waiting for him at Cambridge station. He hugged her on the platform where long shadows shimmered, stretched and merged together as passengers made their way to the exit.
“It’s wonderful to see you, M. How was the journey?” She kissed his hair and smiled as they walked along the dusty platform with Morgan lugging his suitcase on wheels.
“Oh, pretty boring. It’s good to be home. I hated that place, Mom. I told you what happened, didn’t I? You do believe me, don’t you?”
“Of course. But maybe you’ll have to be careful how you use that memory of yours from now on. We’ve had a letter from Doctor Simpson.”
“Oh!” Morgan looked disgruntled.
“You don’t have to go there if you really don’t want to. We’ll talk about it tonight.”
“How are the primates?” he asked, changing the subject.
“The primate research is going really well. Winston is really longing to see you. When I told him you were coming home he got really excited: he does understand, you know. He’s in the car with Lin. I’ve told you about her, remember?” His mother stood still for a moment, touched Morgan’s arm gently and looked at him seriously, lowering her voice. “She lost her both her parents in a terrible car crash in the United States so we said she could live with us until she can decide what she wants to do. She has nobody else. We don’t raise the subject unless she does, okay? You probably remember her father, Jack Rainbow? He was a colleague of your dad’s but moved to America. They did a lot of work together and we became very close. Lin’s mother was Chinese. She was an actress and very beautiful.”
“Oh!” said Morgan, having completely forgotten. “Does she sound American?”
“You can find out for yourself,” said his mother. “Lin Rainbow, pretty name isn’t it?”
“I suppose so.”
“You two will get along fine,” she said with a teasing smile. “Lin is really interested in animals so she’s helping me with the primates.”
They reached the Volvo estate and Morgan could see Winston’s big eyes staring out through the rear window. Next to him was another face and it wasn’t smiling. Lin Rainbow was pretty, Morgan had to admit, but she looked nervous and at the same time a little full of herself. Maybe it was just self-protection, he thought as he loaded his suitcase into the boot and his mom opened the door to allow Winston to leap out chattering and grinning. When he saw Morgan he loped over with his long, golden-haired arms outstretched. He was wearing his best dark blue shorts and white tee shirt with his name printed on the front and a red baseball cap. Morgan smiled, really happy to see his friend again. Winston wrapped himself around Morgan and the boy stroked the young ape’s thick, wiry fur and looked into his big eyes. Winston burbled quietly, making perfect sense as far as he was concerned. Morgan laughed and hugged him.
Winston was tall for an orangutan. He also stood a little differently with a more upright posture and wasn’t so bandy legged. “Hiya, Winnie,” said Morgan. “Mom says you’re getting smarter every day.”
Winston appeared to wink, but it could have been the early afternoon sun in his eyes. He sniffed Morgan’s neck, checking his smell. Morgan did the same, burying his face in Winston’s hairy neck and inhaling the pungent but not unpleasant scent of warm skin and fur.
“He really likes you,” said a girl’s voice.
Lin Rainbow had stepped out of the car and was looking at him with a slightly defiant expression.
“Hello,” said Morgan.
“Hi,” she replied. She was wiry and dressed in dungarees and a yellow ’Save The Whale’ tee shirt with large oversized boots. Her hair was jet black and her oval face was almost perfect, framing her Eurasian features. “I’m Lin. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Morgan looked over Winston’s hairy shoulder as the ape still hugged him. He watched Lin Rainbow slouching uncertainly clutching a book in one hand. She regarded Morgan with the eyes of someone who was habitually cautious with strangers. Morgan thought she looked like a tough street kid.
“You’re the genius, right?” she said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
“Who told you that?”
“I’ve been listening to your mom and dad. You’ve got this special memory, haven’t you?” She sounded a touch aggressive.
“It’s no big deal,” said Morgan as Winston clambered down and loped over to Lin to take her hand. “It comes and goes.”
“Wish I could remember things,” she said.
“I can only remember certain things,” Morgan explained. “I forget a lot of stuff, too.”
His mother was behind the wheel starting the ignition.
“I think your mom’s ready to go,” Lin said climbing into the back seat.
“What are you reading?” asked Morgan as he joined her and they sat either side of Winston.
She held the book more tightly to her. “Oh,” she said. “You wouldn’t like it. It wouldn’t interest a scientific type.”
“Try me,” said Morgan.
She looked at him challengingly. “All right then,” she replied with a shrug. She held up the book. ‘The Spirits – An Anthology of Metaphysical Thought’ by A J Routledge.
Morgan said nothing. It was ironic that this hard-voiced girl had a book like this in her possession. He wouldn’t have pegged her as a new ager. Maybe she wasn’t as rough as she made out?
Morgan’s mother told them they needed to go shopping on the way home.
“You’re not taking Winston into a supermarket?” said Lin in surprise.
“Yes,” she told her. “I know it’s not allowed but I’d like to see how Winston reacts. If we get asked to leave because of some health and safety PC nonsense one of you will have to take Winston back to the car.”
“People might think he’s a kid dressed up in an ape suit for a charity stunt,” Morgan said crossing his fingers.
At the store, his mother placed Winston inside the trolley and they went in. At first there were a few glances but no one said a word. She walked quickly picking up groceries while Morgan fiddled with his gizmo.
“What’s that?” asked Lin looking the strange cylindrical object with its tiny waving tendrils.
“Oh, just something I made,” said Morgan.
A woman pushing a child in a trolley went to pass by them but stopped suddenly. “Oh my God!” she cried. “A wild animal.”
“It’s okay,” Morgan’s mother said reassuringly. “He’s house trained.”
Winston stared at the child in the trolley and chattered, showing his teeth.
“Look,” she said, “he’s being friendly.”
The woman had other ideas. She screamed. Nearby, a man in tweeds was picking up a jar of beetroot when he heard her yelling.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish