SHORT STORY

Grief

The Herald - Arts - - Books - By An­gus Calder

The door­bell, though not im­pe­ri­ous, was in­sis­tent. Re­sent­fully, David went for it. His caller was the moon­faced, rather posh min­is­ter who had just of­fi­ci­ated at Margo’s funeral. His voice was not “flut­ing”, ex­actly. More like an oboe. “Please ex­cuse me, Mr Scorie. I imag­ined that you might be very dis­tressed and I hoped that my church could...” “Help?” “Um, yes. We have a be­reave­ment self-help group... May I comein?” Try­ing not to sound as peev­ish as he felt, David said, “Cof­fee? It's freshly brewed.” “Thank you, er, no… my blad­der…” The rev­erend gig­gled. “Cig­a­rette?” The rev­erend shud­dered per­cep­ti­bly. “No. But you go ahead. I do re­alise that in times like this…” The funeral, with the rev­erend’s bland em­pha­sis onMargo’s saintly virtue, had been bad for David. The re­cep­tion af­ter­wards had been worse. Margo’s fam­ily seemed to him to be de­ter­mined to be­lieve that her death had been his fault. Anolder rel­a­tive had glared bale­fully at him while mak­ing re­marks about the weather. A very small one - a great-nephew - had re­treated be­hind his mother's skirts for safety. “Mammy, I don 't like that man.” Re­solved not to brood, he had come­home to fin­ish a de­tec­tive story. The strange ways of drug smug­glers might dis­tract him from­feel­ings of loss and guilt. It had hap­pened like this. In his flat, he andMargo had had one of their waspish rows. It had be­gun over noth­ing graver than his query­ing her view as to the best place, lo­cally, to buy pork, then es­ca­lated through “You al­ways... You're para­noid”… “You know I pre­fer chicken any­way…” to the point where she seized her over­coat and went pre­cip­i­tately out. In gusty rain, she had blun­dered straight into the path of a speed­ing car. Since the po­lice had been giv­ing chase, it had been front-page news in the lo­cal pa­per. “I gather you were very close,” mur­mured the rev­erend. “At times like this, some ofmy parish­ioners have found” – he at­tempted to pass to David a slim book­let - “this use­ful.” How could this well-mean­ing id­iot un­der­stand what had been in­volved in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a grumpy re­tired man­and a re­spectable, be­spec­ta­cled lady well ad­vanced into mid­dle age? “You must be miss­ing her dread­fully al­ready.” David drew sav­agely on his cig­a­rette. Enough was enough. “Yes. And I tell you what Imiss al­ready, most of all. It’s the quar­rels. We had truly won­der­ful quar­rels. Now I have no one to quarrel with any more.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.