Tuesday, April 29

Prelude to Something Longer

I am rewriting this story:


for a collection I’m working on. This could
then be considered as prelude to that
story. Anyway, it’s something . . .

SHOWERING SO SOON after he had eaten upset his stomach, so he sat, aware of his dampening the sheets, on the bed with his head rested upon his hand, regaining himself slowly, until he could stand up and fetch his underwear. The sun had warmed the room all day, causing him to open the windows wide outstretched, to the flutter of curtains, and heard children playing in the distance; their calls a radio broadcast. Getting dressed he thought he would wear some aftershave. It was not often he went out and, though it irritated his skin, the scent was, if anything, the christening of an occasion, an event, and made the evening feel all the more significant. The small bottles of aftershave, only three, stood next to his bathroom sink and were seldom touched. Opposite his bed, above his wife’s dressing table, was framed her looking-glass, framed ornately in gold painted wood, where dust had collected. He looked up from his hand and caught the mirror slicing into his bedroom, tearing the wall where it went, having a view through the curtain and fracturing a sliver of outside light. Since she had gone, he had chosen neither to observe himself within it nor remove it. So there it hung, staring back at him, unmet.
The Catholic Club often held events in the village hall. They were good; they were bad; unmissable or unremarkable. Photocopied leaflets printed on colourful paper were handed out at the meetings and provided subject matter for many a conversation between the elderly folk, whether they planned to attend them or not—or alternatively voice the intention of not attending in the hope that someone within their company would plead for their presence. It was after a small lunch had been served one meeting that the leaflets were passed around.
‘O, this looks good!’ cried one lady.
Rodarte was still finishing his meal.
‘Hmm, I’m not much for jazz.’
‘I don’t understand how you can dislike jazz.’
‘I don’t understand jazz.’ The conversation continued.
It was Rodarte’s turn to speak when, aligning his accomplished cutlery, he was addressed—‘So . . . you going, mate?’
First Rodarte sipped his tea and then answered—‘I imagine so.’
The aftershaves were considered; each held to his wide nostrils to remind him of their scents, each reminiscient of a life of love, a love of life, the love of a wife. None of them particularly appealed to him. He took one in a deep blue bottle and, finding it the least obnoxious, applied it sparingly around the loose skin of his neck. At the encouragement of his son, he had joined the Catholic Club and, though he refused to admit it, the meetings were of some enjoyment to him. What else was there to do? ‘It’ll keep your mind occupied.’ Downstairs were the dirty pans and plates from dinner he had not yet washed up. His house was very empty lately. A small moth fluttered around his head and rather than brush it away he saw that up close the moth was large and then it floated away on the air and was small. Locking the back door, he thought of a joke that his wife would have found amusing, but he did not know her telephone number, so he could not tell her. He picked up the leaflet from a shelf by the front door and, checking himself with his hands over tie collar lapel jacket shirt buttons creases stitching, he strode out into the cool summer evening.

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