Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Chapter 119

Harry felt guilty as he walked behind Alan, back towards the flat – but it was nothing to do with Carrie. He knew (he was 99% certain, anyhow) that he didn’t think about his ex-sister-in-law in that way. He couldn’t conceive he’d done anything but share her bed, and the more time that elapsed since Friday, the more certain he was of it.

His guilt was all about Danny. Some ‘colleague’ he was turning out to be for the poor kid. He knew it should have been him showing Danny around the flea market that morning, that the two of them should have been able to stand, sharing the awe, in front of the Picasso just now. He felt a failure.

Alan looked to be brooding, as he walked ahead, his pace quickening as if he didn’t really care that his brother was following him. In fact, he was thinking about what Harry had said about Yolanda, and trying to quell an anger that was building up inside of him.

However right Harry might be about his feelings for Yolanda – and for Carrie, for that matter – he wished his older brother had kept it to himself. He knew, well enough, that Yolanda wasn’t ‘the one for him’, but she was convenient, as far as relationships went. It had certainly been helpful for Carrie to discover about Yolanda, and he wondered if her interest in Harry might have been sparked by the news of his having taken up with Ana’s sister? Perhaps it was her way of responding in kind: touché!

Suddenly, it occurred to Alan that everyone in this strange rectangle de l’amour was using everyone else, all to their own ends. Except perhaps Ana – though, of course, she wasn’t without an agenda of her own, either.

By the time they’d reached the flat, Alan had resolved exactly what he needed to say to Harry. And he’d also worked out something he put up his sleeve, for discussion with Yolanda, when the opportunity presented itself.

Pausing in the hallway, he turned to Harry and looked him square in the face:

“Look, brother … I never asked you to come to Madrid. And I certainly never got involved with you and Ana when you split up … even though I thought it was the stupidest thing you ever did. I kept my distance, and I expect you to do the same with Carrie. Understand?”

Harry was listening, and knew there must be more to come.

“Here’s the deal, then. You’re in my house. At least for one more night. Danny will be back soon, if he’s not already here. I don’t want to hear any more mention of Carrie, or Yolanda, or Ana – is that clear?”

Harry nodded. There was some sense in protecting Danny from the debris, anyway.

“We’ll have something to eat. Then, I suggest you take your guest out somewhere. Unless that’s another friendship you want to foul up?”

No answer was expected. Alan, in fact, had turned to climb the stairs, leaving Harry to accept the terms as the fait accomplis they were meant to be. They’d be out of there tomorrow, anyway … and Harry didn’t really care if he never saw his kid brother again.

*

Harry never got the chance to make the calls he’d wanted to make – to Laurel McFry and to Bill Blunt – even if he’d remembered.

The rest of the late afternoon was spent following Alan’s schedule and, in truth, it worked out well enough. Yolanda had surprised herself, in the end, by preparing a simple tortilla salad, along with fabada, a hearty stew that had seemed the obvious choice when she had seen the chorizo, the morcilla and the beans hidden at the bottom of the fridge. Even Alan had seemed impressed, she noticed.

Any conversation kept well away from the subject of families and relationships, and no one was more surprisedby this than Danny Longhurst. He felt the atmosphere of stilted politeness, of course, but it was a relief. They didn’t even discuss the case that he was working on with Harry. They talked, instead, about Picasso. Yolanda had said how Guernica had always scared her when she was a young girl, and that it still sometimes figured in her dreams. “I hate it, actually. It’s like a nightmare come to life”, she’d told them. Alan seemed to know a thing or two about art, Danny noticed, and he enjoyed his explanation of the techniques used by the painter.

Soon enough, the table was cleared, and Harry suggested that Danny might like to take a walk with him up to the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s main square, where they might catch something called the ‘paseo’. It sounded good to Danny.

11 comments:

Theresa111 said...

Another gift to brighten my day. Thomas, you are a dear.

Charlotte said...

This is such a great blog. I love "the dull drizzle" that accompanies Harry wherever he goes. I'm going to have to start at chapter one and read it all. What a pleasure!

Charlotte, aka Word Strumpet

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Thank you, once again, theresa111!

And welcome, Charlotte - I find your own blog really helpful!

http://wordstrumpet.typepad.com/word_strumpet/

Monica said...

Had heard nothing for ages - realised notifications were being diverted to junk mail. How could such brilliance be so badly treated?

The Harry McFry withdrawal symptoms have been completely cleared now by the pleasure of reading loads of chapters in one go - what joy!

I thought you were tying things up a while ago but now more layers and twists are being revealed. Keep up the good work.

Monica

Lord Likely said...

Mr Hamburger, sir, you are the finest writer since Dickens.

I refer, of course, to Arnold Dickens, writer of many fine pamphlets, including 'Holidaying in Swindon' and 'Tax Evasion - Don't Do It!'.

Keep up the fine work, my good man.

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Thank you, Monica! I wondered where you'd gotten to! I'm glad you're back as we (hopefully)edge towards the close...

Lord Likely - such illustrious company as Arnold Dickens is enough to make any man tremble with pride!

Theresa111 said...

I wish Yolanda had baked a couple loaves of bread.

Tremble with pride? Lord Likely is a crafty one…he is. You should know just what he's been up to!

AEIB said...

Why can't I get out of my head 'Like a Bridge Over Troubled waters?'

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Well, AEIB ... you may well be thinking of that little-known song
"El Condor Paseo"... ;-)

the domestic minx said...

Well, anything's going to sound good to Danny, the poor sod...

I don't want this to end :(

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

I think Danny will be the happiest of all when this finally draws to a close, dm!