July 23, 2007

He Came Back

He stood by the door. She looked at him, up and down with a careful eye, in a thorough but concealed manner.

She decided to smile, she always smiled.

"Hallo, Michel, come in. How are you." She continued to address him with her usual benevolence.

When she had stopped he realised she was waiting for response. He froze, his mind was blank.

"I'm alright, thank you. How about you." he managed to matter. She was nice. he could bear her. he bore the effort of repartee. It made her happy, he liked that.

She showed him to a seat in the living room. They sat in uneasy silence, the timid atmosphere broken periodically by the futile effort to make conversation.

He was at a loss as how to act towards a woman whose fortune he had wasted. She was not sure how to act towards a boy-man who had spent a good deal of her husbands wealth on a dead end pursuit. She could be mad, she could be hostile, but she was not. She was a Christian and that's not how Christians conduct themselves.

He stole a glance at her. She caught his gaze and she offered to get a drink. She was already on her feet before he could answer. He half stuttered and the words drowned somewhere in his throat and he just sank back into the seat.

He had studied her at one point, when times were better. It was not that she was a Christian. He knew her before she was a devoted believer. She was like this. It was her nature. He bet in Jesus' times she would have been one of his best friends. He smiled at this thought but the smile quickly disappeared.

They sat there.

Two hours.

She watched TV. She got absorbed in watching a soap opera drama. He liked that because for a while she forgot he was in the room.

The sun was setting and the maid came in and asked what she should prepare for dinner. Her husband is a rich man. she could get someone to do that, of course.

He knew the maid. They were acquaintances but like her master she did not know how to act towards him especially since he caused her master much misfortune. So she just briskly greeted him and turned to her duties.

It was nice food she prepared. They gave him a generous serving. Guilt and lack of appetite conflicted. If he did not eat all it might come across as an insult, but he was not a glutton , neither did he care to appear as one. He ate it all. The maid came in to clear the plates. He stood up and respectfully offered to clean the dishes.

She looked at the maid, their faces were blank. The maid receded. She was alone. She turned back and said yes.

Twenty minutes later they sat again in the lounge, the small lounge. He liked it that way, the big lounge made him feel uncomfortable.

A car engine. Not loud, not the kind heard on the high-way. This was the whispering roar of a Mercedes engine.He husband was home. The scent of expensive perfume filled the house as footsteps came from the under-house-garage to the big lounge. Her husband stopped below the flight of stairs.

"Good evening honey"

They exchanged pleasantries. Her husband looked across the room and saw him. The expression on her husband's face changed but it quickly recovered.

"Hallo, Michel' He replied with all the courtesy he could master.

Her husband started up the stairs and said he would have his food upstairs.

He understood. He wouldn't want to be near himself either, or was it something completely different. Just guessing but truth was blindingly near apparent.

She got up and took her husband's food in a tray and as she passed him she said goodnight and that he could sleep in the guest bedroom. She turned of the stair light after herself. A few resounding steps on the ceramic stairs then he heard a door closing with a soft thud.

He stood up, turned off the light and went inside the guest bedroom. He stood with his back against the door for over a ten minutes. His hand slowly reached out feeling against the wall.

Oblivion. Cold. Empty. Tired.

A bump.

He pulled it down and everything went black around him.

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