Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ya gotta laugh! I've travelled thousands of miles - across the Atlantic, then coast to coast, right through the midwest, way down south, into the desert, up to the Pacific north-west. I've crossed swords with John Ashcroft in DC, addressed 150 guests at private launch parties, dodged hurricanes, tornadoes and thunderstorms, visited twenty cities, done Bouchercon in Chicago, and signed more than a thousand books.

And I turn up for my final gig only to be upstaged by, of all things, a baseball match!

I should have known last night, in the restaurant in Greenwich Village, when waiters were running out to the bar next door every few minutes to catch a glimpse of "the game".

Yesterday, today and tomorrow are the final three games of the season between mortal enemies, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Today's match was critical, and being a Saturday they were playing it in the afternoon.

I should have known as we drove through the deserted streets of Boston and Cambridge to Kate's Mystery Bookshop for my four o'clock appearance, that neither the day nor the hour were auspicious.

For the first time on my tour, at my last venue, not a single soul turned up. Everyone had stayed home to watch the game. And the biggest irony? The Red Sox lost!

But I'll let you into a secret. I was really quite relieved. We had dragged ourselves out of bed at Gary and Ellen's New York apartment at six o'clock this morning. I'd had, perhaps, five hours' sleep. We drove four hours to get to Boston at the end of this long and gruelling tour, and I was - and am - frankly, exhausted. Épuisé.

So it was a relief not to have to recount my Chinese tales this one last time. And I still got to sign the books, which will still be handsold by the bookstore.

And there was a bonus. A lady who was there when I arrived, heard that I was a visiting author, spotted the kilt, and immediately bought "The Firemaker". She asked me to sign it and said, "You know, I've been happily married for twenty-three years, but I always swore that if a big Scotsman with a kilt showed up, I'd run off with him. Whatdya say?"

I told her my wife might object, and introduced her to La Patronne.

"Never mind," said the lady. She waved my book in the air. "I didn't even know about this. I work in another bookstore downtown, and I'm going to order some copies in right now."

For a moment I contemplated running off with her after all. But then I caught La Patronne's eye and thought better of it.

And baseball? Well, we used to play a street game called "Rounders" when we were kids. It's the same game. Marginally more interesting than cricket, although not much. But people here seem to love it - and to me, well, that's the real mystery!

So we headed off into the centre of old Boston to celebrate the end of the tour, only to find it full of baseball fans of both colours. Parking cost 18 dollars for two hours. Queues stood outside restaurants to eat. We finally found a table in a noisy grill house where we had pork ribs and steak tips and shouted conversations.

Tomorrow we head to Syracuse, and an overnight at the home of Le Beau Frère's son, Iain, before completing the circle by returning to Rochester for a couple of days to unwind in preparation for the journey home next Wednesday.

So, no fanfares, no marching bands, no feu d'artifice to celebrate the end of the great adventure. Just an overwhelming desire to sleep.

This is my final blog. No more tales from the World Tour of America. No more red-eye writing sessions to keep the journal up to date.

Just a big thank you to everyone who has been with me, at least in spirit, on this long and winding road. Thanks for your company and your comments. I will do one more journal at the end of next week to recount the adventures we will surely have on our return journey, La Patronne et moi.

Gilbert and Ariane phoned the other day and caught us at Ellen's apartment in New York. They plan to meet us at the Gare d'Austerlitz in Paris when we arrive there to catch our train home on the final leg of the journey. Time allowing, we will eat together at the station buffet.

We look forward to once more being with our friends, to share a simple bite to eat and a glass of wine. I just hope I still remember how to speak French.

Kate's Mystery Bookstore, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Final, Lone, Signing

1 comment:

Marilyn Munsterman said...

A big thank you for the blog. Charles and I loved it. Hope the filght to Paris goes smoothly. See you in the Lot next summer.