The Furnished Room

The Furnished Room by Laura Del-Rivo

Book: The Furnished Room by Laura Del-Rivo Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laura Del-Rivo
place.’
    â€˜All right. Well you’ve had a meal, which is your admission ticket to this café, so you can stay here in the warm for a bit. I’ve got to go now.’
    â€˜My company bore you?’ Jacko looked with fierce pride at the worn cuffs of his jacket and his warped nicotined fingers. ‘Or perhaps you don’t like to be seen with me?’
    â€˜It bores me when you follow me around. Please stop doing it.’ Beckett got up, paid the bill, and left the café.
    Jacko followed him out, and plucked at his sleeve. ‘Look, you done me a favour, so I’m going to do you one. Put a bit of good in your way. There’s this bloke I know —’
    â€˜If you genuinely want to do something for me, leave me alone. That’s all I want.’
    â€˜Look, how would you like to buy some stuff? I sell things second-hand, see. Pick up a bit of cash on the side that way. But I could let you have it cheap, whatever you wanted. Books, a raincoat, or there’s a good electric shaver, almost new. The stuff’s in this pal’s gaff I was telling you about, but I can get it for you tomorrow, anything you want...’
    â€˜I don’t want anything, except to be left alone.’
    â€˜Doesn’t do to be unsociable. Makes you miserable.’
    â€˜Go away!’ Beckett said. Then, as Jacko continued to trot after him, he turned and shoved him hard in the chest.
    Jacko lost his balance and staggered backwards. His face was white and twisted with hysterical hatred for Beckett’s strength and his own weakness.
    Beckett walked away. He was conscious of his hand which had shoved Jacko, as if the hand had become large. The incident had upset him, and he could not regain his emotional balance. He wondered whether he had been too harsh to Jacko. He stifled his conscience by thinking angrily: I hate being bothered... I hate being bothered.

Chapter 6
    â€˜Well,’ Ilsa said, ‘so this is where you live.’ She slouched with her fists in her raincoat pockets. Her beret and belted raincoat made her look like a Resistance heroine.
    â€˜Yes. Sorry it’s untidy.’
    â€˜Darling, you’ll have to find some very domesticated woman and marry her. Otherwise you’ll always be uncomfortable and not cared for. How about Katey? She does all the cleaning at the flat. And I wish you wouldn’t always live on top floors. It kills my feet.’
    â€˜Yes, I always seem to have an attic, don’t I? But I like the roofscape,’ he said. ‘Your raincoat’s wet, love. Take it off and hang it behind the door.’
    â€˜Thanks, I will.’ Shrugging out of the raincoat, she exclaimed: ‘Damn!’
    â€˜What’s the matter?’
    â€˜Broken a nail.’ She inspected the scarlet claws. He took her hand. After a moment, she withdrew it. There was an embarrassment. He said into the pause: ‘Would you like some coffee?’
    â€˜Love some.’
    He went down to the bathroom to fill the kettle. When he returned she was lounging in the armchair, swinging a bored foot and flicking ash on to the floor.

    He put the kettle on the gas ring, then shut the window. Rain beat against the panes. A brilliant zigzag of lightning lit the sky, followed by a crash of thunder.
    Ilsa said anxiously: ‘I hate storms.’ She combed her fingers through her wet, waif-like hair.
    Beckett thought: Good, then perhaps she’ll stay the night. Aloud he said: ‘Yes, it’s bad, isn’t it? Likely to go on all night, according to the weather report.’ He started to tidy the room. On the hearthrug were the remains of a meal: the saucepan he had eaten out of, the bathtowel he had spread on his knee because the saucepan was hot, the book he had read while eating, and an apple core in

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