Three old men crossed the Royal Mile, busy as always at festival time. One last drink in the Royal Oak on Infirmary Street, Scott, Louis and Daniel. Daniel was dying, Daniel lived with schizophrenia, Daniel had one last wish, to meet again with a woman from the other side of the world. To that end he had made his wish known to his young friend Robbie Muir, who without Daniel’s knowledge had found Lin Mei-Ying, now a Professor living in southwest Taiwan, and arranged for Scott and Louis to ensure Daniel would be in the Royal Oak where he and Mei-Ying had first met twenty years before.
They crossed the cobbled road, down Niddry street, Bannermans bar where they often played as a band in their younger days, crossed over the Cowgate into Robertson close. Had anyone noticed they would have seen the three of them hugging the old walls urging each other up the hill like they were ascending some great mountain. At the top they paused to catch their breath. The small bar was busy some musicians playing a bluegrass tune as they went inside. They ordered three pints of Guinness and sat precariously on the high stools. Daniel looked to the clock, he was tired, almost 4 o’clock now, no he would not leave yet. No one knew it but he came here at this time every year waiting for the woman he had loved to walk through the door. She never had done in twenty years.
The three friends raised their glasses “to Daniel” said Scott, ” to music” said Louis, “and to friendship” said Daniel.
Outside Robbie and Mei-Ying looked inside and saw them. Robbie urged her to enter. A little nervously she did so. Time stood still and she no longer heard the music. As she approached Daniel the movement caught his eye and she stopped right in front of him. “Hello Daniel my old friend.” He stared in disbelief. “Lin Mei-Ying?” he asked almost in a whisper “you came back.” They held onto each other like there was no tomorrow, it seemed to say so much more than words ever could.
“Lets go outside, let me say goodbye to my friends” he said unable to take his eyes off her.
On her way out Mei-Ying looked around, time had changed nothing here maybe a couple of pictures it had though caught up with her and Daniel, now she was sixty and he was eighty, she remembered almost everything about him, his days as a runaway, his travels across oceans and the old highways of Australia in the early sixties and his state of mind, she had never forgotten this place where they had first met. In one of many letters he had written how the Royal Oak had become more than just a place to drink, talk and hear songs, it had become more like a shrine to his dreams and ‘on this day’ the dream of her friend had come true.