He went down to the stock room. Ther
e were gluetraps lying about with dead
mice and beetles on them, but it was cool
er there than upstairs. Uneasily, he
placed the fish in the drawer of an old metal filing cabinet.
For the rest of the afternoon he worked on
new rental listings. His eyes were
burning when he stopped. It was late and he
had to hurry to the tube station.
Sweating and panting he
emerged at Charing Cross just
in time to get the six-forty.
On the train, crowded wit
h weekenders, he found himself thinking of Marie.
Sometimes she would sing a nonsense song in his ear, her mouth close as if she were whispering a secret. He remembered the strange so
litariness of her
existence in London; her even stranger indifference to this solitariness. They couldn’t afford hotels so they used to
pretend she was a client, interested in
one of the properties listed with his firm. Every home they entered was a different world. Making love in
the ‘sumptuously appointed Victorian
maisonette’ or the ‘cosy garden flat’ was an adventure into a series of possible lives, each with its own reckless joys: one
afternoon they were rich socialites;
the next a pair of bohemian students... For three years he had felt the
happiest man alive, and the luckiest. Marie never asked him to leave hisfamily, and he had regarded this, too, as part of his luck.
And then, abruptly, she had ended it. ‘I’m
in love with you’, she’d told him
matter-of-factly, ‘and it’s beginning to hurt.’
His wife was waiting for
him outside the station.
‘Where’s the salmon?’ She asked.
A sudden horror spread through him.
‘I – I left it behind.’
She turned abruptly away, then
stared back at him a moment.
‘You’re a fool.’ She said. ‘You’re a complete bloody fool.’