Eighth book

I spoke to Harry today, he’s using again. He was in the launderette on Venables Road. no laundry with him, it’s a haunt he uses to stay in the warm. Not that it was cold, it’s just the stuff he’s on takes you that way. The woman who runs the place turns a blind eye, at least while there’re no kids around. Come three o’clock he out on his ear; I’ve seen him kicking up a fuss, calling her all sorts of names when it’s chuck out time, he’s back there every day though. Dread to think what he has to do for cash in the meantime.

I would’ve ignored him as I walked past, he would never see me, I doubt he could recognise me, even if he did take a break from staring at the floor to glance my way; those glasses he needed to see are long gone. Today though, I took pity on him, don’t ask me why, I knew it would go the same way it always does with him. I stepped into the launderette, gave him the; ‘Hi Harry, how’re you doing?’ routine. He perked up straight away, greeted me like we were bosom buddies, I wonder if he even remembers the last time we spoke. I Asked him if he wanted a cuppa in the cafe two doors down, he was making his excuses as I said, ‘My treat, we’ll get a plate of sausage, egg, chips and beans, while we’re in there’.

Harry was nervous as we sat in the cafe, he might’ve been turfed out more than once for lingering over a cold cup of tea. I tried to keep the conversation light as we waited for the food to arrive but it’s difficult with Harry; his interest in such topics have diminished to extent where there’s little common ground to explore. Football was something he used to be keen on, he used to play a bit too, there was even a rumour that he was scouted once by one of the northern clubs, before his… Well I don’t know what you would call it, it was before the time he gave up: on his friends, his prospects, on reality.

Anyway, we’d been dancing around subjects, mostly the weather and celebrity gossip, then the food came and Harry attention was occupied with scoffing it down. ‘Here have mine,’ I told him when he finished, he looked at me with a certain voiceless reproach but the hunger in his eyes got the better of him. He’d wolfed the first plate down in seconds but the tightness in his stomach was making the second meal linger. In a lapse of concentration I let the conversation drift somewhat but it seemed to be going okay, he asked me about the kids and the Mrs. I gave him the gen, then I made the mistake of reciprocating, ‘What are you up to then, still seeing that girl?’.

What a fool, I should’ve known better, he kicked off giving me the details of his flight into fantasy land on the seat of a Ford Anglia. I tried to interject, ‘Yeah, that’s interesting Harry…’ tried to get him back into the real world but he was having none of it. I gave up listening after while, I caught the odd reference, dragons and broomsticks, pasty guys with no noses. There might’ve been some cutesy goblins and dated stereotypes in there too; jovial corpulent bearded men, wizened geezers with smoking caps and maybe a secret taste for pederasty. His words were foaming into crest of white noise, of over familiar imagery, of simplistic moral focus supported by the convenience of his narrative. He could always find vindication, his woes were the consequence of conspiracy and malign spirits, good and evil delineated with razor sharp definition. The world’s not like that, not the real one, I wanted to say but I couldn’t summon the will the speak. It was like the catatonia that creeps up on you when a bitter girlfriend is exercising her anguish upon you for no reason.

Then that name surfaced, ‘Hermione’ it floated proud upon his babbling sea of incessant delusion, like the plaintive legend of a lost ship on a lifesaver, it was too much for me.

‘Tracey!’ I said, ‘her name is Tracey, Hermione is just the daft name she used when she applied to that model agency. You know to sound posh, like she wasn’t born and brought up in Middlesex’. Harry stopped abruptly, there was a shudder, the loose crockery on the table rattled audibly and a wake of cold tea sloshed over the rim of a cup spilling on to the gingham. There was a moment of incandescence there, his eyes burned with something akin to their old light, then he muttered one of his faux Latin phrases. I couldn’t make sense of it, whether it was an insult or exclamation of injury, I wouldn’t know but he was up from his chair and out the door before either of us could blink.

I sat there for a few moments before the silence was broken, ‘You’re friend, he’s a bit soft in the head’. It was a woman sitting at another table, she looked a bit like one of Harry’s stereotypes, a retired teacher perhaps, a spinster with cats at home. ‘Poor boy, I suppose he’s had a lot to deal with; being an orphan and in such tragic circumstances’.

‘Sorry?’ I asked.

‘You know, that business with his parents being murdered?’.

‘Oh good grief,’ I muttered, it’s catching, he’s infected this poor woman with his delusion. I contemplated putting her right, telling her the truth; about his mother who run off with her Jamaican ballroom dancing partner. About his long suffering father, who took early retirement and got a part time job to cope with Harry’s recalcitrance but the failure of my good intentions this day, caused me to reconsider. ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘tragic’.

~ by deadspidereye on February 12, 2016.

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