The following is part of "Soap Opera Sunday", hosted by Brillig and Kate.
The summer between my junior and senior year in college I got a scholarship to do a semester at Cambridge. As the session was coming to a close, my friend Dottie and I decided to tour around for a few weeks on a Brit-Rail pass. (No prior plans, no reservations -- it’s a great way to travel when you’re young and foolish.)
In order to save money and maximize our sightseeing, we frequently took “night trains” instead of staying in a hotel. It seemed like a great idea, but since the UK is relatively small, the only trains that would grant us a full 8 hours of (not) sleeping were the ones that ran between England and Scotland. Even then, schedules were quite compromising. (I distinctly remember disembarking in Inverness at 5-something in the morning, and wandering the foggy streets until the bakeries and coffee shops opened). I have many, many spine-tingling stories of these Brit-Rail adventures, but one of the most memorable (that I thankfully lived to tell) took place on our first night in Edinburgh.
We arrived in the late afternoon and basically had a few hours to wander the city and shop for sweaters (the dollar was high and the pound was low that summer!), then see what we could of the city before catching a night train to London. We locked our bags at the train station and started making our way to the center of town when we met a sweet little old Scottish man who offered to show us around the city. We looked at each other, and shrugged “why not?”, so we suddenly had our own private tour guide of hidden Edinburgh, Mr. Thomas Bogey.
[I write this now and want to wave my arms and shout “Hello, girls! Red Flag! The name alone should be enough of a warning! Run while you can!” but...]
It was nearly dusk and we did not know Edinburgh at all, so we were delighted to have someone give us a walking tour. We couldn’t believe this cute little man was willing to spend hours escorting us through Edinburgh to show us his favorite sites. He didn’t know any good sweater shops, but he assured us he’d give us an amazing tour of the city. So we loped alongside him as the sun began to set and the shadows lengthened over Edinburgh.
He did take us to most of the key places, and knew a great deal about the history and such, but what began to be disturbing was what ELSE he knew. He’d stretch out a gnarled finger and say in his thick brogue, “Right over there a little girl and her mother were killed. Their bodies were found just beyond that thicket.” or “Right over there a young lady disappeared. No one ever saw her again. Papers say she fell in the river, but I don’t think so.” “Right over there a teenage boy died. Shot in the head. Nobody found out who did it.” Holy cow, was this guy ever giving us the creeps! How did he know so much about every murder in town? And why was he telling us? We didn’t know we were signing up for the twilight mystery tour! I secretly decided the only way he was so obsessed with all these killings was because HE'S THE ONE WHO DID IT!
I exchanged a few wary glances with Dottie, but neither one of us dared say anything for fear he’d do us in right then and there. Finally we got near enough to the train station that we thought we could make it back on our own, and told Mr. Bogey it had been a lovely tour, and we thought we should be making our way back to the train station now, but he wouldn’t hear of it. “Nay, lasses, it’s only half past seven and your train doesn’t leave till nine. Besides, ye haven’t seen Scott's Monument. It’s just around this bend here. Come along...ye can't say ye've been to Edinburgh and not seen Scott's monument.”
(to be continued)