It was Mike’s last day with Portmans. After 22 years loyal service he and Judie were moving upstate to run a pottery near Montauk.
‘Well, all the best,’ I said, as we clinked glasses at the bar. ‘Won’t you miss the City, the convenience? Anything?’
Mike took a sip of his whisky and smiled. ‘What like the two hour commute? The pollution, the noise?’ he said. ‘You know what, the only thing I’ll really miss is the Thursday night card game at Benny’s.’
I wouldn’t miss Mike, but I sure would miss my Thursday nights with Judie.
Gaius unloaded the last of their possessions from the cart. The dust and sweat of a summer’s day in Campania coated his once white tunic.
‘Gaius, Gaius, come and see.’ Aurelia took her husband’s hand and guided him towards the entrance vestibule of their new home – a home which had taken many long years of toil and sacrifice to earn. This was a move which was going to be a fresh start for Gaius and Aurelia. The child she was now carrying proof that a love which had shown signs of being on the wane was once more the compelling force that had first joined them as childhood sweethearts.
Gaius smiled: the mosaic was just as they had discussed.
See that Pinto? That’s you. Gaius knelt down to stroke his excited, young puppy on the head.
After dinner the house soon quietened. Gaius and Aurelia had long since retired for the evening, exhausted after their travels south. In the hallway a minor, almost imperceptible tremor woke Pinto. A small cloud of dust fell from the ceiling. Within moments all was calm again.
From a neighbouring mountain tiny puffs of steam rose and disappeared into the warm night sky. At its feet the people of Pompeii dreamt sweet and peaceful dreams.