27 February 2012
Trust Not The Vow ... Chapter 19
Rachel's intention to sit down with her husband and thrash over the matter of him and Terry and force him into admitting his homosexuality, was not to be, for Gary was given a job in Perth and he departed without a word of regret or an offering of consolation. In fact, he seemed glad to go and took his angling equipment in case he got the opportunity to fish.
During the week, Rachel fretted continuously about the hopelessness of her plight; she could not eat, or sleep, or concentrate on her work. In the end she took time off, disregarding Cynthia's warning that she would be worse off at home.
She spent a lot of time walking with Rex, visiting the old haunts where she played as a kid, remembering the good times she had with Sally-Anne and the boys who lived nearby. Normal boys, she thought, yet how would she have known? In the evenings she relaxed, with the whisky bottle beside her, Rex curled up at her feet. A couple of times she called home and had a natter with her Dad, but because of his own problems with her mother's increasing psychic condition she did not tell him about Gary. He would worry if he knew and probably knock hell out of him when they met. She did not want to cause any bloodshed.
THROUGH an alcoholic haze, she thought she heard the doorbell, but Rex continued to snore and she did not stir. Instead she picked up the half empty whisky bottle from the floor and poured a generous helping into the tumbler that was perilously perched on the arm of the chair. Some of the spirit splashed onto the wooden arm; indifferently, she licked her index finger to wipe it off. The noise came again, distant, as though someone was calling at the house next door. This time Rex rumbled softly, before shattering the calm with atrocious howling.
Unsteadily, Rachel went to the door.
Cynthia didn't bat an eyelid when Rex bounded out, his tail wagging in the excitement of the occasion. ‘In,’ she ordered, pointing through the door. Then she saw Rachel. ‘Blimey, you look ghastly. Have you been drinking?’
‘Yup,’ said Rachel, leading the way to the living room.
'I won't stay long, Curtis said he'd pick me up on his way home.' Cynthia went straight to the whisky bottle, which had fallen on its side in the commotion and spilled its contents onto the sheepskin rug. ‘Your rug looks a bit bedraggled to say the least. Got a floor cloth?’
‘I'll do it in the morning.’
‘You can't leave it like that, it'll get filthy.’
Reluctantly, Rachel fetched some cloths and together they rubbed the tangled fleece until it was almost dry. Because of the similarity in colour between the spirit and the skin, Cynthia reckoned there would be no stain.
Cynthia made coffee for them both, while Rachel sat on the high stool to watch. Regarding her quizzically, Cynthia asked if she had eaten, and looked extremely doubtful when Rachel told her she had. Settling on the twin stool, Cynthia said. ‘I've just seen your Mum.’
‘Where was that?’
‘By that awful empty house. The one everyone thinks is haunted.’
‘Didn't you know?’
Rachel shook her head. ‘Was she going in or coming out?’
Deep furrows appeared between Cynthia's brows. ‘Why would she do either? Is she thinking of buying it?’
Rachel felt quite sober as the significance of Cynthia's question sank in. ‘Did you say it was empty?’
Blowing on her coffee, Cynthia replied, ‘It's been empty for ages. Ever since the old woman died.’
‘I thought ....’ Rachel paused, trying to collect her thoughts.
‘I thought there was a companion or something.’
‘Not to my knowledge.’
So where was Amy and her new friend going if not to that house? And why should she lie?
Unaware of Rachel's turmoil, Cynthia rambled on about the signs of haunting in the house, odd shadowy lights in upstairs windows, strange rattling sounds coupled with groans and sighs.
Thoroughly mixed up and needing to assimilate the information privately, Rachel pushed for a change of subject, asking about work, and the boss.
‘That's one of the reasons I came tonight, to tell you he's leaving.’
Rachel's face lit up. ‘Honestly?’
‘Thought you'd be pleased. I didn't think he'd last. He's too ambitious for that job. I gather management have got a replacement already.’
‘Well, let's hope he's more understanding of female staff.’
‘You look better now, Rachel,’ observed Cynthia. ‘You looked dreadful when I arrived. Have you heard from Gary yet.’
‘Don't be daft. He's probably holed up with a replacement lover.’
‘You'll have to face him soon.’
Rachel was prevented from replying by Curtis ringing the doorbell and Rex launching into a second fit of hysterical barking. The arrival drew the evening to a close and with even more to think about it was with relief that Rachel waved them off.