Monday, 26 March 2007

Chapter 60

“How are you going to tackle Lillian McFry, Harry?” Danny asked, as he pulled the car off the motorway and they began the tour of roundabouts that would take them through Telford and to Lillian McFry’s door. Their journey had passed companiably enough, although Harry thought Danny’s driving was a bit too fast and loose for his own liking, and more than once found himself stepping on a non-existent brake pedal in the passenger well. Neither of them had felt the need to speak much – the relaxed silence between them was remarkable for two people who had only met earlier that week.

Harry had spent much of the journey thinking about their planned trip to Madrid the next day. This time tomorrow, he thought, they’d be at the airport, getting ready for their departure soon after lunch. And tomorrow night, if all went to schedule, he’d be meeting up with Ana again. He wasn’t sure yet exactly what he’d do with Danny then, but he was certain he could find a diversion or two that would interest a youngster on his first visit to the city. Alan, his brother, had sounded a little surprised that he’d have someone in tow – well, surprised that it wasn’t a woman, perhaps. His apparent ability to make light of the fact that he was in a relationship with Ana’s sister still irked Harry, and he hoped he’d get some time alone with his brother to explain how he felt about it. What exactly did he feel about it, he wondered, as the car sped along the motorway? On the one hand, why should it matter that Alan had fallen for Ana’s sister, Yolanda? She was beautiful enough, for sure – maybe not quite as striking as Ana, Harry thought, but she had the same fine features and ‘way’. Maybe he was jealous – but that was preposterous: if Alan had ended up with Ana, now that would have been a cause for envy.

In his time, Harry had come across plenty of cases of brothers marrying sisters in other people’s trees. It was always the sign of a good genealogical programme if it could record relationships like these and draw out a tree that didn’t look something like the London Underground map, Harry had always thought. But the idea of his own brother and he marrying two Spanish sisters was an easy one to dismiss. ‘That not going to happen, Harry,’ he was thinking, when he noticed, for the first time, that they had left the motorway, and that Danny was expertly navigating the car towards Lillian McFry’s house. What was that he’d just asked him? Oh, yes … how did he plan to deal with Lillian…

“Seems to me like you’d better take the lead with this one, Danny. She’s your client, after all. I’ll just play the interested father, see where it takes us.” ‘This’ll be a novelty,’ Harry thought. He’d never had to play ‘Dad’ before. Son, brother, brother-in-law, husband, son-in-law and uncle were the only roles he really knew. At least his ‘son’ was someone he might be proud of, if he really were his father. A bright kid. Someone who knew where he was going in life. Just a shame his ‘father’ didn’t have the same map.

They pulled into the cul-de-sac at Vale View just before 11am. Harry noticed the twitching curtains as they got out of the car. It looked like the kind of place where nothing ever happened, where the pulling-up of a strange car was something to remark on. He wondered how much her neighbours knew about ‘little old Lillian McFry’.

Whatever it was, it probably didn’t extend to knowing that she’d killed fifty fascists in Spain. If Harry had known that, too, then he might have been even more nervous than he already was as he walked, just a few steps behind Danny, up Lillian McFry’s short garden path.

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