Saturday, 19 May 2007

Chapter 93

Harry didn’t hang around in the club much longer. In fact, once he’d seen Danny exit, he made his own way out of the place. As he left the building, he saw Danny walking off in the distance – heading, he noticed, not back to the flat but down towards the Gran Via. It made him happier to know he wasn’t going home, and might be exploring the city. The kid was deeper than he thought.

Within a minute Harry had found a cab, and had given the driver directions to Ana’s flat. En route, they passed a late night store where Harry jumped out to buy flowers and a bottle of cava, while the taxi waited for him.

As he rung the bell outside Ana’s block, he thought of the first time he’d been there, how it had become, for a while at least, his second home. Nothing much seemed to have changed – at least on the outside. He saw the remnants of an old poster advertising a jazz concert, faded and peeling now, on the wall next to the door to the block. He’d been to that concert with Ana, he remembered now.

She buzzed him up without asking who it was. When he’d climbed the stairs, he found her door already open, a soft light coming from down the darkened hallway. He checked behind him to make sure he wasn’t being observed, and entered the hall, closing the door quietly. His heart was pounding as he made his way towards the lounge. Music was playing – something he couldn’t place. As he approached the doorway, Ana appeared, dressed casually in jeans and a white blouse - but looking ravishing, with it. She smiled when she saw the flowers:

“You big, old, romantic Harry McFry!” she exclaimed, collecting them from him and tossing them onto a chair as she dragged him into the room. Her arms reached up around his neck and drew him to her, while Harry still held onto the cava in one hand. With the other, he let his fingers explore her hair, as they kissed. It was a kiss that lasted five years.

When they finished, finally, Ana pulled away from him, looking slightly flustered, smoothing out the creases in her blouse.

“We had better get the ‘business’ out of the way, I suppose,” and she sighed, and beckoned Harry to sit next to her on a sofa pulled up against the wall.

“The good news is that my friend has already rung his friend at the Ministry. He’s just rung to say they will see you tomorrow!” She paused to let Harry take in the significance of what she was saying, but she saw he hadn’t.

“You are honoured, Harry! Don’t you realize how unusual that is? They must really want to see that paper of yours for them to agree to meet you on a Sunday!.”

It was a relief to Harry to know that this piece of the jigsaw might be in place before they returned to Liverpool.

“What about this?” he said, reaching into his coat for the plastic box containing the samples he wanted testing.

Ana smiled again, almost triumphantly: “My friend in the Technical Park says she will start the tests on Monday morning at 7am. But, she could lose her job over this, if she is discovered.” Ana paused, and her smile was swapped for a much graver look. “She’s asked for 2000 Euros…”

It was a lot of money. Harry McFry was a drinker. He was a smoker. He may even have thought of himself as a womanizer. But he didn’t much care for gambling. He calculated it would wipe out the advance he’d got from Laurel McFry, but he instinctively knew he should go ahead. Old Ma Shipman wouldn’t have cashed her rent cheque yet, he realized, so he’d have enough cash in the bank to cover that kind of fee. In the back of his mind was the idea that time was of the essence. Lillian McFry – Laurel’s grandmother – might, for all her apparent good health, not be long for this earth. He wasn’t an actuary, but he guessed that every passing day increased the odds of her demise quite dramatically.

Harry handed the sample box to Ana. “Go ahead, Ana. And tell your friend not to worry – she’ll get paid.”

With the ‘business’ out of the way, Harry could turn his mind to the ‘other’ business. He had decided, during the taxi ride there, that whatever else happened tonight, he’d consciously put Ana’s husband out of his mind. He would have to trust that, whatever ‘arrangements’ Ana had made, they’d be safe together – at least until the morning.

Ana sensed Harry had done with his casework.

“Here – let me open that bottle for us,” she said, rising from the sofa. “Why don’t you take your coat off and just make yourself comfortable? You remember where the bedroom is, I think?” There was a glint in her eye as she disappeared from the room. Harry dropped his coat on the sofa, and made his way out of the lounge, pausing only to pick up the flowers. He found Ana in the kitchen, reaching for a couple of glasses, her back to him. She still had her figure, had kept herself well, he thought. He loved the way her hair fell across her shoulders and the crisp white of her blouse. She turned as he entered: “Oh … yes … the flowers - give them here,” she said, and she found a vase from somewhere. “You can be quite sweet sometimes, can’t you?” Harry blushed a little. It was a while since he had heard a compliment from someone who meant something to him.

“Here you are,” she said, handing him a glass of the sparkling wine. As he took it from her, Ana looked him in the eye, serious now.

“You do want this, don’t you Harry?” she said. He knew she didn’t mean the cava.

“I want it more than I ever wanted anything else, Ana. I know I was stupid, I should have…” he said, trying to explain how sorry he was for the last five years. But she never gave him a chance to apologise.

“Shush!” she said. “Just stop analyzing it all, Harry. It’s too late for that. Just for once you’re going to have to live in the ‘now’. I know you can do it!” And she took his hand, and led him to her bedroom.


the domestic minx said...

Oh YES!!!
Do continue!!

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

I know,I know, domestic minx - Harry just needs to 'get on with it'!

Kind Regards