The train stopped at the station. The sun was shining brightly and Eric was relieved to see that it had stopped raining. He picked up his bag and followed the other passengers off. Everyone greeted loved ones and walked toward waiting cars and taxis, but there was no one waiting to meet Eric. So he put in his earphones to listen to some music and leaned against a wall to wait.
The train station emptied, except for a woman working at the kiosk and a man sweeping the floor.
Suddenly, someone rushed in and bumped into Eric.
“Hey!” Eric snapped. “Watch where you’re going!”
“Oh my! I do apologize,” said the man. “Most sincerely, I’m so sorry. It’s just that I had to dash over here. Family business, don’t you know, most inconvenient. I was only recently informed I was to meet my son Eric and . . .”
The man looked down at Eric. “Why, it must be you!” He reached out and shook his hand energetically.
“How perfectly splendid, most agreeable. Forgive me for not recognizing you. My, how you’ve grown!”
Eric’s father was in his late forties. He had a thick greying beard, which desperately needed trimming, and was wearing an old-fashioned motorcycle helmet. Goggles rested on his forehead. He was wearing a drab grey blazer, which was missing several buttons and had leather patches sewn over the elbows. Dangling from his blazer pocket was a gold watch chain, and bright red socks peeked out from beneath the legs of his dark green trousers. His shoes were scuffed and obviously hadn’t been cleaned for a long time.
“Septimus Severus Trinket, at your service,” he said, with a broad smile and a quick bow. Then he took out his pocket watch, glanced at the time, and stuffed it back into his blazer pocket. “Well, best be off, I suppose.” He picked up Eric’s bag. “We can’t stand around here all day, can we?”
Septimus led Eric to a battered old motorcycle with a rusty sidecar. He pulled a collection of keys from his pocket and gestured to Eric to hop in. “Don’t worry about Toby.”
“Toby,” Septimus echoed. A black sheepdog with just a small white patch of white hair on its chest was sprawled across the seat. It stared at Eric. “Don’t fret, he won’t bite. There should be just enough room for both of you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Certainly,” Septimus replied.
Eric reluctantly hoisted himself onto the seat, squeezing in beside the dog, who growled menacingly.
“Hold onto your bag,” Septimus said, lifting it onto Eric’s lap. “And put this on.” He handed Eric a crash helmet and kick-started the motorcycle. The engine roared to life.
Eric was thrown back into his seat as they pulled away.