The Convent

The Convent by Maureen McCarthy Page B

Book: The Convent by Maureen McCarthy Read Free Book Online
Authors: Maureen McCarthy
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while I … I’m up here being the greatest talent of the age.’
    â€˜While you’re up here being an arty farty wanker , you mean!’
    â€˜Isn’t it fantastic!’
    â€˜We’ll be able to plan stuff!’
    â€˜We can nick off and go to the movies!’
    â€˜We can sip gin out on the balcony!’
    â€˜And chuck stuff down at people we hate!’
    â€˜Det, this place is fantastic.’ I throw my arms around her. ‘It’s just what you need and you deserve it. I’m so happy for you. You’re going to do some great painting here.’
    â€˜Perfect, isn’t it?’ She smiles.
    â€˜You’ve already started.’ I point to the big canvas.
    â€˜Yeah.’ Det pulls away from us and takes off her work shirt. Underneath is a tattered T-shirt over the red skirt. ‘Let’s eat. I’m completely famished.’
    Cassie pulls a small grainy photo of a man standing against a wall and squinting into the sun from the pin-board. ‘Who’s this?’
    â€˜That is my old man,’ Det says dispassionately.
    Cassie and I are quiet as we stare at the photo, but Det takes it back and pins it up where it was. ‘I found it in my stuff months ago.’
    She has her thongs on now and is wandering around her studio frowning. She suddenly seems edgy and out of sorts.
    â€˜What are you looking for?’
    â€˜How old was he in the photo?’
    â€˜About thirty.’ She smiles when she spots her tobacco under some screwed-up paper in the corner. ‘Come on, girls! Got me fags; I’m starving.’
    â€˜Do you remember him?’ I risk asking.
    â€˜So how old were you when he died?’
    â€˜What was his name?’
    â€˜Martin. But everyone called him Marty.’
    â€˜So what was he like?’ I ask curiously.
    â€˜What can I say?’ She shrugs. ‘He was … my dad.’
    Cassie pulls the baguettes from her bag along with the drinks.
    â€˜I got freebies!’
    â€˜No shit? Oh man!’ Det yelps in delight, grabs one and takes a couple of huge ravenous bites before putting it back in the bag. With a guilty laugh she wipes her mouth with one paint-splattered hand. ‘Sorry, but I just had to do that! We’ll eat them downstairs then?’ She runs back and opens the window wider. ‘This place needs air too. Let’s get out of here.’
    At the door, Det takes a moment to stare at her canvas. ‘I’ve been working on this fucker all night,’ she mumbles, ‘and I’ve hardly got anywhere.’
    â€˜Did you have any sleep?’
    She points ruefully at the corner. Two grimy sheets and a rumpled doona.
    â€˜You slept here?’ Cassie is appalled.
    â€˜Well, I did last night.’ Det is defensive. ‘I have a key. We’re allowed in to work at any time of the day or night. How would they know if I sleep here? It was actually good. I had some sleep then got up and worked like a maniac all morning.’
    â€˜It’s good, Det,’ I say, looking at the painting again. ‘At least, it will be.’
    â€˜You think?’ Her face brightens momentarily. ‘I’m not sure yet.’
    â€˜Are all the rooms here the same size?’
    â€˜I got a big one,’ Det replies. ‘Most of them are half this size. Apparently the painters get a choice if one comes up.’
    â€˜So, back when it was a convent would a more senior nun have had this room?’
    â€˜No, half a dozen postulants would have shared this one,’ Det says.
    Cassie and I look at each other. ‘What the fuck is a postulant?’
    â€˜When they first went into the convent they were called postulants. They had a year or two to try it out.’
    â€˜How do you know all this stuff?’
    Det pokes me in the chest. ‘Old Peach hates not to know, eh?’
    â€˜My dad’s

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