'Jump' Chapter 13
JUMP Chapt 13
Desmond sat at the kitchen table. The rain fell in sheets creating everchanging rivulets on the window's glass surface. The tree outside looked like a watery apparition. It was early morning and still dark. He took a puff on his cigarette and drew the smoke into his lungs. He sipped his coffee. The day had a Saturday feel to it, which in fact it was. He had only minutes earlier awoken from a restless sleep to find that the first rains in many months were watering the grateful garden. Mr Takahashi was visting his family up the coast. Desmond had the house to himself. He would soon shower and go the hospital as he had for the last week. Norma's condition had not improved. Most of the time she seemed disoriented and would often shut her eyes as though suddenly asleep.
He really had no idea how to manage the situation. He had become her mainstay and he relished the role. It gave his life shape and purpose. He padded to the front door and opened it. The rain bucketed down onto the sheen of the driveway. On the other side of the hedge he could hear the sound of cars splashing up water. He was glad he had some hours before he would visit the hospital. He picked up the LA Times and went inside.
He placed the newspaper on the kitech table and walked across the livingroom to the cinema. He turned on the projector and sat down on the coach. He had watched the same film countless times over the past few days.
After the projector had finished the film, after the final heartbreaking moment when Norma looked directly at the camera, and after the titles had rolled, and the film had clackety clacked and the screen had gone white Desmond sat there and let the feeling of sadness surround him. Then he stood and walked to the projection booth and switched everything off. It had always been his job to look after the projector on the nights when they watched her old films or new releases. They would sit there in the evenings, just the two of them, holding hands like two kids. He would make popcorn just the way she liked it, with just the right amount of salt and butter, and they would smile at each other in the darkness and she would cover her eyes when she saw her young self, glowing, translucent, a screen goddess. Her eyes were so expressive and her acting still powerful. He loved her so much in those moments. He would tease her and she would hit his shoulder and they would laugh.
God! They had fun, didn't they? They were such good chums. Great mates and she understood him - his reckless sexuality, his hunger for life, his carelessness. They were soul mates, of that he was certain. She had seen so much that he would stagger sometimes when she said something that revealed that she had known everybody, that she had been a huge star, had danced in Paris with Chabukiani, had holidayed in the South of France with the Fitzgeralds. Her life had been full and to think that it may be ebbing away broke his heart. He switched off the cinema lights, closed the door and walked across the livingroom to the staircase leading up to the first floor. He grabbed the bannister and walked up. At the top he switched on a table lamp and the details of the space emerged from the shadows. A French impressionist painting glowed on the wall. He walked down the hallway, going from room to room, turning on the lights. In each room he walked to the window and checked the view. He looked around each room, taking in its smell and its atmosphere, as though hoping to find out something else about her.
In Stanley's study he sat at the desk. He put his hands behind his head and streched his legs. He looked at the photo of Stanley and Norma on their wedding day. Go Tiger! thought Desmond as he leaned forward and took the frame in both his hands and examined it closely. The fashions were from a distant epoch. They both looked very happy. Stanley had an expression of unbridled pride. He made no effort to hide his power and ambition. Norma seduced the camera. So long ago.
He put the frame back on the desk, stood and left the room. He continued his journey along the hallway. He wanted to remember all of this. He knew that soon all of this would be swept away. This place which Stanley and Norma had so lovingly built and decorated, into which they had poured all their love of beauty and their intelligence, would be sold. All gone. Nothing lasts forever, Desmond, old boy, nothing. Not even the Roman Empire. He had already moved his clothes into the guest room downstairs. He wanted to be in the house, to say goodbye to the place, if a goodbye was necessary.
The rain continued to bucket down. Soon he was showered and on his way to the hospital.
Clinton De Vere