A few weeks have elapsed. Gordon goes into ‘Café Solo’ on Oxford Street for late lunch, coffee and thinking. It might’ve been pure luck that he chose this place at this time, or perhaps fate whispered in his ear. Either way, it seems so unlikely Gordon just goes with it. As his seafood soup is delivered with panache, he hears two people talking at the table next to him. Did he say Eliot? Gordon’s mind tunes in to a stronger signal and he eavesdrops further.
“Yeah, he’s really nice. Refreshing change from this lot.”
“And cute no doubt?”
“Certainly is but in a different way; not your average fake-pretty type at all.”
“And Eliot, what kind of a name is that?”
“Dunno. Not sure where he’s from – could be English, Irish or Scottish! He’s been around.”
“I mean well travelled.”
“Excuse me, but did you say Eliot? Sorry for being nosy, but it’s important,” Gordon butts in. Tim and his friend give him a half-dirty, half-curious look. “My name’s Gordon, I’m looking for an old pal called Eliot. I think he might be in Sydney.” Gordon introduces himself and joins them at their request. The efficient waiter moves his soup with much fuss.
“I’m Tim, this is Veronica,” Tim points first to himself then his lady friend, as if there might be any confusion.
“... So he just arrived a few weeks ago, from Manchester...” Gordon reconfirms the facts he receives, the words he wants to hear.
“Have you known him long?” Veronica asks.
“Several years but we lost touch. A friend of his in Manchester contacted me, and I decided to try and track him down,” Gordon answers without adding any revealing details.
“Why? I mean, coming all the way here, sounds a bit serious?”
“Not really. But it’s quite important I find him quickly... personal reasons… too complicated to explain.” Gordon doesn’t transmit any further information and closes their minds, so they lose the thread of the conversation, then continues. “You don’t happen to know where he is today, do you?”
“No,” Tim responds vaguely, “but we’re meeting him later tonight. He’s got a dinner date somewhere first,” he adds, perceptibly jealous of Gordon’s potential presence in his new arrangement.
“Dinner, who with?”
“Don’t know. Why don’t you join us later and surprise him.” Tone a little less bitchy.
“Best if I find him right away,” Gordon realises he sounds rather dramatic and tries to lighten his questions, “it could be important, as I said.” Tim and Veronica become slightly suspicious but still believe Gordon is a genuine acquaintance; he seems to know Eliot very well.
“John might know.” Veronica.
“John? Where can I find him?”
“He’s probably at home finishing his novel. Deadline’s way past!” Tim. Gordon remains silent waiting for more information as his expression demands.
“He’s a writer (you don’t say, thinks Gordon, most novelists are), he met Eliot before we did. Lives quite near here.”
Gordon demolished the soup – shame as it was tasty – and is now buzzing John’s apartment. No answer. Buzzes again, and again.
“Shit,” out loud, then decides to hang around. Nobody shows up, Gordon goes for a walk around to kill some time. Four hours later, a reply.
“Is that John?”
“I’m a mate of Eliot’s from Britain; Gordon.”
“Oh... right,” John hesitates, surprised of course: “erm, come up. Second floor.” Gordon pushes the door as it’s released and bounds up the stairs to 22. He finds John warm and charming, he explains the situation, to an extent; John seems laid-back.
“Yeah, he said he was meeting some people for dinner. Actually, he gave me the card with the restaurant’s name and address. It’s around here somewhere. Hang on a minute.” Gordon tries to look patient, as John hunts around calmly, but feels time is dripping away. Unfortunately, John’s flat is a real mess: paper, newspapers, empty and unopened cigarette packets and used cups form a layer or two everywhere. He’ll never find it amongst all that, Gordon thinks.
“Ah, here we are,” he suddenly contradicts those stray mental words, “le Grand Oeuf,” he reads off the card. “Quite good apparently. If you want to catch him though, you’re best taking a cab.” Gordon grabs it, thanks John and mutters something about seeing him later. John looks slightly taken aback but certainly not bewildered.