After seven days of intolerable confinement, Izzy decided that this foggy afternoon was the right time to free herself. And, if she could manage, Clara.
“Don’t worry, my dear, it will be all right.” He cocked his head. “You did promise.”
Mr. Thayer moved to touch Lydia’s shoulder, but she pulled back, wrapping the thick robe tighter. Mr. Thayer – she would never have thought to call him Gregory – stood back from her. Lydia could not interpret his expression. He might have been showing a twist of amusement or contempt around his bearded lips, but mostly she felt that he was studying her as if she were an animal or a specimen. That was what he did, after all, studied and painted.
And she had promised him. She found herself blushing. At the same time, she felt in control, in some way.
He doesn’t peer into every corner. He doesn’t need to know. There are shadows on the wall, leaving an indistinct impression. One among many. The walking wounded stare back. Casualties of war. Now, they’re in another place, fighting battles for survival. Their wounds are all too real. There is no front line, or back seat, or room with a view. Come dawn, along with the rats, they all disappear.
The sun fell sideways through windows of his home looking on the river, silence an absolute enemy, his mind suddenly clearer than ever, 79-year old Guillaume Gee Gee Poupon threw down his cane and screamed from the head of the stairs: I’m tired of leaning. I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of this goddamn house holding me like a briefcase. I’m out of here. He cursed in a deep Acadian voice and the sounds brought a smile on his face. Blood pumped in his chest, being known; cavalier, he thought, Vesuvian, oh that once I had been so young.
Something shakes me from sleep, a rhythmic clanging, harsher than the church bell. And closer too.
I sit up. The walls flicker in the dim light of the hearth fire. Across the room, Father’s side of the bed is empty, but Mother’s is not. She can sleep through anything.
‘This is Britain! My fuckin’ Britain!’ shouted Gleeman as he slammed his ham-sized fist into his wife’s stomach. ‘Things are different now! There’ll be no more of your lip and no more of your equality. We don’t do that shit in my country no more!’ He stuck out his oily hand. ‘Gi’s it!’
“Jeesily H Christ, son of a bitch,” Addie muttered, not exactly under her breath, as she jockeyed her walker through the maze in the dining room. Why’d they have to cram so many goddamn tables into here, I can’t imagine. Heading for an empty one, she banged her walker into a chair, threatening to send both flying, pulled out another, aimed her butt in the general direction, and plonked into the seat with a thud. Sometimes she pushed out a loud fart on the way down, just for the fun of it.