Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 01/15/03 4:43 PM

Humour: The Red Dragon

                                   The Red Dragon

It was getting to be dark, we were tired but there were no B & Bs to be had in all of Bath. So we drove on towards Bristol, till we came to this farm tucked right away in the interior, with the nearest village miles way and going by the unlikely name of Chewy.

Cisca and Barun went into the farmhouse to make enquiries while the rest of us sat in the car, idly looking around us.

Bit far from civilisation, isnt it, I ventured, trying to sound casual. Yes, someone concurred with what I thought was inappropriate enthusiasm. It`s so peaceful here, they added.

Peaceful wasn`t the word I wanted, it was more like sinister. This was a very silent farm. No cows lowed, no birds sang, no horses snuffled.

And when our advance party returned along with a heavy-set man with the palest blue eyes you ever saw, I felt a chill run down my spine.

We got rooms and very pretty rooms they were too, all done up in florals and upholstered in a maroon shade. Who had done up these rooms? My wife, said our host in a hoarse tone.

Where was she? Away, he said, looking away himself in a decidely shifty manner.

My sister Sue and I were sharing a room. While she went for a bath, I checked the bookshelf and what I saw there confirmed my fears. There it was, a paperback copy of Thomas Harris` cult thriller, the terrifying Red Dragon, the movie version of which was running to packed houses all over Europe at the time.

All of us met in the lounge in an hour and i discovered that they all had a copy of the very same book in their rooms too.

A sign, I hissed but they just rolled their eyes.

Our host drew a complicated map and told us to follow it, to a pub which served the best food in the region.

All very well, but soon we were hopelessly lost on a pony path, with no dwellings or lights to be seen for miles. Much jocularity was expended on the host`s mapping skills but not by me. I knew he wanted us to get lost.

We finally found the Pony and Trap pub but that was more due to Palle`s navigational skills than the map.

I did not catch a wink of sleep all that long cold night even as Sue slept like the proverbial log. I`d placed a chair against the door, just under the doorknob. I`m not sure how that works but I`d seen enough horror-film heroines do the same.

The thing was, I was convinced we were in a serial killer`s house. He`d done away with his wife and many unwary guests, too. Well, I wasn`t going to end up as his latest victim.

At breakfast the next morning, I begged the others in a low tone to eat only the fruit and pass up on the cooked food but aside from giving me amused and exasperated looks, they went ahead and ate their fill.

As we got into thje Peugot, our host came out to the car and said, I hope you didn`t flick through the pages of Red Dragon in your rooms and then stay awake all night. It`s really not bedside reading but my wife, who is away on a dig in China right now, is a big Thomas Harris fan.

As the car turned out of the drive, there went up a wave of unholy laughter from all the occupants but one. I kept a dignified silence. Well, a woman can never be too careful, right?

This ran in DECCAN HERALD of 15 Jan 2003.





Bristoleerie placehumourRed DragonThomas Harris

Sheila Kumar • January 15, 2003

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