by D. Nisbet
The Boeing 737 banked slowly to the
left heading almost due West following the line of the Forth on
its gradual descent to Edinburgh Airport. It shuddered as the
fuel supply to the massive Pratt and Whitney engines was gradually
reduced to slow its forward momentum. He had a window seat as
the city unrolled in the clear spring air showing its landmarks
proudly, the dull black of the Castle rock, the green sward of
Holyrood Park with the Palace gleaming brightly beside it. He
drank in the architectural symmetry of the new town, its beauty
much more noticeable from their elevated position. All too soon
they flashed past the twin bridges spanning the river, each so
different from its neighbour, one a sturdy relic of its solid
past, the other slim and supple, a marvel of modern design and
the calculations of stress factors. They landed with a gentle
bump and the scream of jet engines thrown into reverse pitch.
How long had it been since he had set foot on his native soil?
He did a quick calculation — over 20 years, a quarter of a lifetime.
He collected his overnight bag and
made for the rent-a-car counter. The girl behind the counter looked
fresh and smart in her tartan outfit. "Yes, Sir?", she asked turning
on her best smile. "Mr C. Ferguson", he replied "I called ahead
from London ". "Oh yes", she answered all brisk and business-like.
"I have a 2-door Escort ready for you in the car park. If you
could just let me have your identification we can complete the
formalities fairly quickly". He handed over his passport and Fiona,
for that was the name on her company badge, efficiently completed
the few details needed on the form. "Will it be cash or credit?"
she asked coming to the bottom of the form. He handed over the
dark blue plastic strip hesitating over the hackneyed phrase "American
At last he was on his way, moving
carefully through the unaccustomed gear shift reminding himself
that they drove on the left side of the road here. His confidence
grew quickly and he decided to take a chance and drive through
the city centre on his way east. The rush hour was over and the
traffic was light. He had time to take in the beauties of the
gardens below the Castle although many of the old names had gone
from the shops