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.'I'll see you first thing then, son.''Oh shit.' Harvey shook his head and felt the exhaustion more strongly than before.'And no more rubbish under your bed, please.' His mother had returned to the kitchen and was humming happily having delivered this directive.Harvey was halfway up the stairs before it reached his brain.He walked carefully down again.'Sorry?''I found that bag of clothes under your bed, covered in muck.I dread to think what you get up to sometimes.I put the whole lot through the washing machine twice, including your plimsolls.They are as good as new now.''Er, right.OK.Thanks, Mum.' And he crept up to bed at half past eight, exactly as if he was nine years old.It had been a very long day and for once, for once only, it felt good.Chapter FourteenWhy do parents like waiting at railway stations? If there is anything to say it can be said in the car, or before leaving the house even.Yet here were Harvey's parents hanging about with him on the Penzance platform in an awkward and unnatural silence waiting for a train that was ten minutes delayed.'You can go if you want, you know.I'll be all right.' I'm thirty-five, for Christ's sake.But he couldn't say that because he had a rule: never leave under a cloud.You don't want your last face-to-face words to your parents until next Christmas to be unkind ones.'No, we'll stay, darling.We want to see you off.We see you so rarely, we have to take every minute we can.' His mother's sentimentality was kicking in and he thought he could detect actual tears imminent.'Yeah, OK, it's nice to have some company actually.' Not yours, of course, but.'You could lose a bit of weight, Harvey.' His father was not, as Harvey had learned to his cost in the past, afflicted by his own concerns around departures.He remembered vividly the day he went off to university, his first real leaving home and his father's last words to him: 'You can't do much worse there than you did at school, can you?' Half his journey had been ruined thinking about it: what kind of valediction was that when the only child leaves home for ever? Shouldn't there be some rite of passage, some passing on of wisdom from father to son, not just a wanton insult? Where was the ceremony? Where was the passion? Jesus.'Piss off.' Rules, after all, are there for the breaking.'Now, Harvey, don't be rude to your father.''He said I was fat.''No he didn't, he said you could lose some weight.That's a different—''He is fat.''Look, will you piss off.You're not exactly the glamorous grandad yourself.''He's not a grandad, Harvey.I'd so love him to be, but he isn't.''Oh, for fuck's sake, I don't believe you are going to start on that now.'And so the leave-taking descended into abuse as, in truth, it almost always did, rules or no rules.Harvey had been looking forward to the journey home.His father had roused him at half past six by coughing outside his bedroom door and padding up and down the landing.Harvey, who rarely arose before nine, was feeling the pace a little.The journey, he felt, could be restful.A time for clear and considered thought.He needed to draw a line under everything that had happened.Get some distance, literally and figuratively.Move on.But instead, almost at once, he found himself thinking in circles.And they were circles of guilt.'I should have gone to the police at once'; 'I should have found out where she was staying and telephoned her'; 'I should have stayed and talked it all through with Bleeder.' This last was the most wretched cycle of all.If he had just had a little courage he might have found out how much Bleeder knew.Instead, he had left himself open to hope and fear in equal measure.For all his efforts on his future self 's behalf he had let him down after all and he felt bad about that.What if I never know? That was one of the fears assailing him.It was perfectly possible that there would be no coverage of a murder in Cornwall in the national press.He would find it hard to ring his parents more than once a week without causing major suspicion in their minds.There was the possibility that he would never hear anything further about the murder of Mrs Odd.And that was a good thing, of course, except that he knew his sleep patterns were going to suffer.The journey from Penzance to London is of nearly six hours' duration and there is a limit to how much of the English countryside any man can take.Harvey had a book in his bag, a biography of a seventies rock star.But somehow groupies and drug binges seemed a bit shallow and unexciting; compared to the last few days at the seaside they sounded like a rest cure.So to stifle the anxiety attacks that were threatening to send him heaving to the tiny train toilet, he drank beer from outrageously overpriced tins of Watneys, warm and sticky, but good for the memory.He started soon after he boarded at ten fifteen and was still sipping from his last can when he arrived at Paddington at four thirty.By that time he had forgotten pretty much everything.Although he had taken very little to the reunion, he still found his rucksack heavy and unwieldy.Stumbling a little and slipping on the polished platform surface, he considered abandoning the bag in a passing luggage trolley.However, with a quick snatch of 'Should I Stay or Should I Go' by the Clash, which happened to be in his mind, he decided instead to keep the bag.It was his after all.People were looking at him, he realised, as he made his way towards the Underground and he smiled benignly.'Hello,' he called kindly.'I didn't do it, in case you are wondering.I am entirely innocent.Well, no.' he corrected himself, 'not innocent entirely, not guilty or anything.I broke a window, for Christ's sake.' He swung the bag up from his trailing hand onto his shoulder, buffeting an old lady who was following behind him.'Ha, shouldn't stand so close.'"Don't Stand so Close to Me".' He sang a bar or two of Sting as he turned round again to give her a smile, but she had gone.'Bye.Shit.' He stumbled again and headed for a bench.'I must sit down.' He sat for a few moments, aware of two things.One was that he had cured the circling thoughts in his mind, they had definitely disappeared; however, it now seemed that everything else was going round and round.The other was that the station was prettified by a sort of plastic facsimile of a traditional English pub, which opened off to one side of the concourse.Harvey had the idea that he had drunk there before and decided that he should revisit those days.This spirit of nostalgia got him through two further pints before he felt ready to go.'Cheerio,' he said to a slightly smelly but very friendly man he had met in the pub.'Have one more on me.' He handed the man a fiver and received an expansive smile.'Ta, gov.'Then smiling in a way intended to take in the rest of the pub's patrons and, in truth, the entire human race, he made his way to the Underground.It was as he was buying a ticket that he became aware that he wanted to go to his shop rather than head for home.He wanted to look at what, if the hard truth was faced, was his only real achievement in life.He wanted to run his hands over it.Feel that he really was back in town.With a brief burst of 'Mack the Knife', he headed for the barriers.Josh had been left in charge for the four days Harvey had been away and Josh was not to be trusted.He was not managerial material.A good manager should check his stock.A good manager put job before home-life.So instead of taking the Bakerloo Line to Charing Cross, Harvey took the Circle Line to Moorgate and walked up Old Street to Inaction Comix through a light drizzle.The shop was in darkness and he took a while getting out his keys [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]