Can You Keep a Secret?

Can You Keep a Secret? by Caroline Overington

Book: Can You Keep a Secret? by Caroline Overington Read Free Book Online
Authors: Caroline Overington
Tags: australia
… No, we can’t go back there. We’re going to have to stay with you … We, meaning my friend Caitlin and me … She has no family – she’s visiting from Australia … No, she doesn’t have anywhere else to go … Well, that’s the way it is. We’ll see you soon.’
    He folded his phone and put it in his pocket. ‘Alright,’ he said. ‘Let’s go.’
    Caitlin didn’t move.
    ‘Come on!’ Colby said, tugging her hand. ‘Jesus, we’ve got to move.’ But Caitlin had started to cry again.
    ‘Oh, please, not now,’ said Colby. He took both of Caitlin’s dusty hands in his, and said, ‘Look, Caitlin, we can’t do this now. You’ve got to stop. It’s going to be okay.’
    ‘I stepped on somebody,’ she said. Her face crumpled.
    ‘I know,’ said Colby, lifting her face and kissing it. ‘It’s scary. That’s why we’ve got to get to my mother’s and get inside. We don’t even know if this is over. Have you been listening to what people are saying? They’ve had a go at the Pentagon. There’s a plane down in Pennsylvania. Did you see the Times Square ticker? The subways are shut. It’s dangerous out here, Caitlin. We’ve got to get moving. We’ve got to get inside.’
    Caitlin nodded. ‘I know,’ she said. She wiped the back of her hand under her nose – the tip of her nose was the only clean patch on her face – then Colby took her hand and they began to walk.
    ‘Where does your mother live?’
    ‘The Ansonia.’
    ‘Where’s that?’
    ‘Seventy-third and Broadway.’
    ‘Is it far away?’
    ‘No.’
    They made their way uptown, passing many others who were also trudging along under clear blue skies, covered in soot, cuts and bruises. Some grimly pushed shopping trolleys loaded with bottled water, canned food and duct tape. Colby briefly wondered whether to join one of the queues, but he had lost his wallet and Caitlin realised she had, too.
    ‘But we’ll be okay at your mum’s. She’ll have bottled water, won’t she?’
    ‘Tonic water, yes,’ said Colby. ‘And she’ll certainly have gin.’

Chapter 12
    The doorman at the Ansonia rushed forward upon seeing Colby dragging the pale and streaky Caitlin by the hand into his foyer.
    ‘Terrible day, Mr Colbert.’
    ‘Shithouse,’ Colby agreed. It was a word he’d picked up in Australia and had not had much occasion to use. ‘But we’re alive. And that’s more than can be said about others. I’m going up to see my mother. This is my friend, Caitlin.’
    The doorman nodded.
    ‘Not a problem, Mr Colbert. You mustn’t worry about your mother. She hasn’t left the building all day.’
    ‘She hasn’t left the building all year,’ Colby muttered.
    They crossed the foyer, past a dusty floral display, and waited by the iron gates for the elevator.
    ‘How old is this place?’ Caitlin asked, looking around. The floors were marble; the walls were giant blocks of stone.
    ‘Ancient.’
    ‘It’s like everything’s antique.’
    ‘Everything is antique.’
    The elevator crawled upward. Pearl’s apartment was on the sixteenth floor. They stepped into the corridor, and Colby rapped his knuckles on a door built wide enough for a grand piano to pass through. A small man in a faded uniform answered. He looked like he might be military, with a loose gold braid dangling over one shoulder. This was Reginald, Pearl’s butler. His shirt cuffs were frayed, his buttons dull, and one shoe had a stacked heel.
    Colby asked, ‘Is mother home?’
    ‘In the parlour,’ Reginald replied. He dipped his head slightly, in what Caitlin took to be a bow, in her direction. Colby still had her hand. Reginald stepped back, and Colby strode past into a room that was both cavernous and decrepit, dominated by soaring ceilings and curved windows. The room was on the second of two floors in the building’s south turret, with stone walls that were three-feet thick, faded drapes, a parquetry floor, and heavy furniture that smelt of wet dog and stale

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