He listened as the young man walked away, escorted by Nils. There was a stiffness to his gait, an unsteadiness that made the Colonel wonder if he was slightly drunk, or merely hungover, though it was possible that he was simply nervous.
The Colonel followed their progress with his ears, standing at his work bench, still as a statue. His hearing was sensitive enough to discern the difference between their footsteps as they went through the grass. He listened as they crossed the drive and reached the house, where Nils opened the door to the guest suite for him, once again, leading from behind and inviting him inside.
Johnny Holiday, an absurd name, the Colonel thought; it was a name that lacked gravitas. People would be inclined to take him lightly.
When the door closed behind them, the Colonel turned his back to the table. With a few concise steps he neatly cleared the detritus from both the table and his tools; he was as efficient as a waiter decrumbing a table.
He returned everything to the work bench and resumed tending to his flowers.
He examined the contents boiling in the cauldron, stirring the aromatic brew with a long handled wooden spoon.
It was hot outside, but he enjoyed the scent of herbs, and flowers with undertones of pine wafting from the pot in steaming waves, adding to the humidity in the garden.
He watched the dark clouds gathering in the Western sky, considering the day ahead, and that it would soon be raining; he would driving right into the storm on his way to the Chalet in Kensington, on the banks of Lake Roland.
The Colonel had enjoyed his conversation with Holiday, though he kept it to himself. He found the young man to be both honest and insightful, and though nervous, as most men were in his presence, Holiday did not wilt under pressure.
There is promise in him, the Colonel thought, as a cool stream of air blew across his face carrying with it the scent of flint.