The Carriage Driver 4 – Stephen Hawking

Updated on April 28, 2018

Captain Griffin Chaffey rose early. In the stable he readied the carriage. He polished the wood and waxed the leather. The brass shined; on the whole the carriage would pass any inspection.

He began talking to Nuelle as he brushed her coat. He drew a wide tooth comb through her mane. He inspected her hooves, and checked her shoes. When satisfied that everything was in order he moved Nuelle to the carriage and harnessed her for their ride.

A moment later they found themselves in front of Great St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge. A strong, healthy looking young man stood out near the street. Many people passed him by without seeing him.

The young man turned his head as he heard Nuelle approach. His hands that, were in his pockets, now hung by his sides. His eyes wide as he viewed the carriage the man on the seat and the beauty of Nuelle.

Griffin climbed down, he said hello. He reached in his pocket and removed an apple. Cutting it in half he fed two pieces to Nuelle and offered a piece to the young man.

“I’m Stephen Hawking. Who are you?”

“My name is Griffin, my companion here,” pointing at Nuelle, “is Nuelle. We have been sent for you.”

“Sent for me. That seems so unlikely. I have made my beliefs very clear over the years.”

“If you will step into the carriage, we will take you anywhere you want to go.”

The young man looked at the man in front of him. The man who just offered a slice of apple to him. Like Eve, he thought.

Griffin held out his hand to assist him into the carriage.

“If you don’t mind, I think I would prefer to walk for awhile. It’s a long story.”

Griffin went and adjusted the reins and began to lead Nuelle and the carriage. Young, Stephen fell in step alongside Griffin.

“All those people came to say goodbye. Is that a sign of a good life? Or a sign of respect for a body of work built over a lifetime of examination? I became famous. Just a kid from Oxford with only a slight interest in academics. It seemed to just happen.”

“We have carried people from all walks of life, with all levels of education. Your money, or fame, or educational accomplishments are not the measure used. No quantum theory is needed, no advanced mathematics. Nothing needs to be carried out to the fourteenth decimal place. At least as far as I can testify. Are we walking in the right direction?”

“Are you saying that my life and life’s work were a waste of time?”

“No, not at all. You expanded the knowledge of mankind. You asked the questions and then sought the answers. Every iota of the universe was yours. You have viewed the universe as a large mechanism and you wanted to be familiar with every rivet. Take our carriage here. I know every inch of it. Every spoke in the wheels has been inspected many replaced. The under carriage is maintained. It is worth knowing how it works, because the work it does is important. It is the same way you pursued the knowledge that you gleaned and shared.”

“There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story.”

“Excuse me a moment.” He handed Stephen the reins. “I’ll be right back.”

He walked to the carriage and reached under the seat. He opened the book, looked at Stephen and asked, “Stephen William Hawking?”

“Yes, that is me.”

Griffin walked back and took the reins.


“You spent the bulk of your seventy-six years asking questions regarding the workings of the universe. That, as you know, is every man’s pursuit. The questions of the universe plague all mankind. It is a question that can be disguised under many different activities, but it boils down to – ‘Is there a God?’ Then further, ‘What is my role in the universe?’”

“You can study the laws of the universe. There is a beauty to it. The puzzles can be worked out one after another. Men will know the ‘how, what and why’ of the universe. They will all be explainable by science.”

“I’m just a carriage driver, but I hear you saying that you are studying the laws of the universe. The mechanics of it. Yet you disregard the idea that someone created those laws or designed those mechanics.”

"The laws may have been decreed by God,” he paused. “This is a circular argument. There can be no end to it.”

Griffin scratched his chin. “Do you ever wonder how it is that you were born in Oxford? Near the oldest University in England. Oxford a center of religious thought and political debate reaching back to 1096. Any coincidence to that, do you think? And Cambridge, Church of St Giles, was established there before the University and the Convent of St Radegund became Jesus College. The very ground where the two universities sit are hallowed ground. Education has its roots deep in the church. Come to think of it the first block printed book was a bible.”

Stephen looked at Griffin. He was enjoying the conversation. He was enjoying his own voice, without a speech-generating devices. He was enjoying his legs and holding his head up tall. There was a new beauty to the day. The English countryside presented itself as a work of art, as clear as any creation. The cumulus clouds hung low, so low you felt you could reach up and touch them. “You realize that you are mixing your defenses. Though there is truth behind what you say, you bring into the argument things that it can be said don’t belong in the theoretical context of the discussion. The laws of science can be proven.”


Griffin smiled, “And also over the years disproven or perhaps modified. I admit, I am not a scholar and quantum mechanics holds no interest. My interests lay in ensuring that the wheels go around.” He touched his pocket and produced another apple. Nuelle, Griffin and Stephen shared the apple along their country walk. “I just had a thought. I would like to meet up with you again someday. Once you have seen the Great Hall, where many Bohemian artists chose to go. They are creating a great mosaic depicting the battle between good and evil. Science can map out the mathematics of the world. But can the calculus of science break down and measure good and evil or define happiness? Can science provide a map to the maze that becomes a man’s life?”

The three walked along in silence for several minutes. The two men lost in thought, still enjoying the debate. When they reached the top of a gentle incline a village came into sight.

“I am getting a little thirsty,” Hawkings said. “Let’s find a Pub and have a pint.”

Entering the village, they stopped in front of an old stone building with ancient vines clinging to the stone. Near the door a carved wooden sign displaying the words, ‘Euclidean’s Pub’ swung ever so lightly in the breeze.

Griffin walked over to see after Nuelle while Stephen walked inside. There at the bar was Lewis Carroll with just a partial pint in front of him. He started straight towards him and called to the barkeeper for two pints. He turned and in a booth in a dark corner sat Alan Turing. Stephen ordered two more pints. When they arrived, he brought one of them over to Turing. Turing stood up and joined them at the bar.

Griffin walked in and went over to Stephen. Stephen introduced him to Turing and Carroll. The men drank and began to talk.

When Griffin finished his beer he told Stephen if or when he wanted to continue his journey, all he had to do was let that be known.

“You have not convinced me that there is a heaven,” Stephen called as Griffin reached the door.

Griffin smiled, calling over his shoulder, “How do you explain me?”

Elton John Sixty Years On Royal Opera House

Questions & Answers


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      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        12 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Nikki - I enjoyed researching this piece. I knew Lewis Carroll was a mathematician, but he is famous as a writer. And Alan Turing is famous in his own right. No one can guess how many conversations there have been on the subject of heaven. Thanks for the nice comment.

      • nikkikhan10 profile image

        Nikki Khan 

        12 months ago from London

        Another thought provoking tale of after life experiences, loved reading the conversation between Griffin and Hawking about existence of Heaven and God.This is very much beneficial for those who don't believe on anything.

        Probably some questions are better to linger on till the time arrives.

        You're a great storyteller Mike, I must compliment this.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Gypsy - Thank you. I will make it over to your writing soon.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hi Peg - Of course you give a solid argument. Looking at redwoods gives the same message. And thanks for setting the record straight, 'that's it' I will have to spend more time in English pubs!!

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Shy - Thank you for the blessings, as always. I like the saying you left. I had not heard that said quite that way before. hugs

      • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee 

        13 months ago from Riga, Latvia

        A fascinating story. Thanks for sharing.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        13 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

        Star gazing leads me to believe in a Creator whose mighty works are on display for our pleasure and admiration of His power. I can't imagine that this universe just happened without some immeasurable amount of planning and someone in charge of the project. (Says the former project manager - chuckle.) Faith is truly the act of believing without seeing.

        I wondered about the wine after you mentioned the movies not showing it being served in English pubs. So I read an interesting article on the history of British Pubs and was amused to find, "It appears that the great British pub actually started life as a great Italian wine bar, and dates back almost 2,000 years." I hope you will find a good use for the reference of changing water into wine or serving it in pubs as you like.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 

        13 months ago from Texas

        Another awesome story. As the saying goes 'If you believe no explanation is necessary and if you don't believe no explanation is possible.

        Blessings my friend.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Peg – It seems to me, that regarding the question of heaven, there is only one thing which I am certain. That one thing is, that ‘Man’ has no idea. We all star gaze, we see what has been written, what has been manipulated. We witness the variations between regions. The entire base of religious wisdom is always delicately balanced on the word faith.

        If nothing else, Griffin is a good listener, with years of practice guiding the carriage. Now, for Euclideon’s Pub, I have not spent any time in an English pub, but I can’t recall in the movies, anyone serving wine. That thought though, is so creative, consider it stolen for use at a later date.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Paula – Thank you. This new approach to the Carriage Driver stories is going to take me some getting used to. (They seem less creative to me some how.) I am glad the Elron John music fit so well and is being so well received. As you know, the whole series has been an exploration of the many Western conceptions of ‘what comes next.’ I am no closer to an answer now, than two years ago when this series began. Perhaps it has it been longer?

        Had I thought of it, I would have used Hawking getting the use of his legs as a pivotal point in his thinking. Ah, maybe next time.

        As far as a peaceful Sunday. It seemed more like a relay race. I finished up one leg of a race, and perfectly timed, was handed a baton to another.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        13 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

        Mike, You have creatively handled the question many of us have about the fate of those who don't believe. I liked the debate and rapport between Captain G and Stephen. I feel certain they will work out the questions of the universe in Euclideon's Pub. Perhaps someone will show up and turn the water into wine if they should run out.

      • fpherj48 profile image


        13 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Mike.....This Elton melody is so haunting. Violins seem to create goosebumps. I love this Carriage tale, as always, told so beautifully. Amazing talent never disappoints.

        Your ending is stunning, Mike and I can't help but think that after Hawkings explains Griffin, he might want to explain how he's walking.

        I hope your Sunday has been lazy. Paula

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Genna - Hawking (without an s) earned a world renowned reputation. While working on this piece, I found out he also co-wrote with his daughter children's books - about, what else, the universe. So, I hardily agree he was astounding.

        Again, while gathering material, I found that Lewis Carroll and Alan Turing also attended Oxford. I had an uncle once who told me 'water seeks its own level' - imagine the level these men reached under the guidance of Oxford University.

        Science dismisses faith, and that is a shortcoming. Science has been a great benefit to mankind, but religion 'tamed' mankind so the course of humanity could be taken. (Yikes, I am rambling.)

        Thank you.

      • Genna East profile image

        Genna East 

        13 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

        Hawking was simply astounding. His mind took him on amazing journeys that his body was unable to travel. Such journeys of the mind produced a brilliant theoretical physicist.

        I so like how you juxtaposed Stephen's final journey with his atheist leanings; what can be proven and what cannot be proven; the thesis of science versus truth and that of faith. Introducing Hawking to Lewis Carroll and Alan Turing. How cool is that? :-) :-)

        And I loved the last line where Griffin turns and asks, "How do you explain me?" Just precious! Excellent writing.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hi RedElf - Thank you. There are endless possibilities, though this was never meant to be mini-biographies. Thanks for joining in.

      • RedElf profile image


        13 months ago from Canada

        Interesting premise - and as Maria suggested, endless possibilities for passengers. Thanks for this!

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Good morning Bill - Thanks. As you can see this is not the same tone of many of the other Carriage Driver stories. Inspiration may return.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        13 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Time has not dulled your writing talent at all. It has sharpened it and given it texture. Great work here, Mike!

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Good morning Verlie - I am with you Stephen Hawkings is too smart for me. Now, Einstein I could keep up with - I hope you hear me laughing. Science only addresses half the problem, that is the problem. I hope the sun is shining in your neck of the woods.

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 

        13 months ago from Canada

        I even spelled his name wrong 2x :(

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 

        13 months ago from Canada

        Mike, Stephen Hawking, (walking) and talking in his natural voice, meeting up with the Giants. This is beautiful. As are the questions raised by the carriage driver, and between the two of them. You know some of this is too brainy for me, I tried to read Hawking, and failed. Love your story. What other brilliance have you got up your sleeve?

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello John - Thank you. I appreciate that. There was a bit of research involved. I was surprised Lewis Carroll went to Oxford.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        13 months ago from Queensland Australia

        Mike, this is perhaps my favourite of all the carriage driver tales. Wonderfully researched and written. a pleasure to read.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR


        13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello mar - Griffin is smiling at the thought of having a conversation with Hawkins and both men enjoying the exchange. He sends his regards. We will all learn as we go with #4, as I or more likely ay-ay-ay stumble along. Happy Friday.

      • marcoujor profile image

        Maria Jordan 

        13 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

        I'm smiling that Stephen Hawkings ' seems to have met his match' in Griffin.

        This 'famous series' has limitless possibilities, dear Mike. You are putting in some rich details that make these stories a lesson of sorts about personalities and accomplishments.

        Oh how I love this EJ song ... listening now. Hugs, Maria


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