Book 5: Who is in the House?
He checked the address with the one Miss Gregg had told them and they were the same. He put the letter in his inside pocket, inside the notebook with the train journey details. He was trying to be organised. Surely with an address it would not be hard to find Stolid eventually. Then life could return to something like normal. He had a sudden image of Stolid sitting on this very seat hunched over the computer, of Stolid’s thigh scraping over the same edge his own thigh rested against. Then he had a sudden image of himself kneeling on the ground caressing that naked thigh as if it was the thing he desired most in all the world. He shook his head in disbelief. Surely he was too old to be consumed by thoughts like that?
He rose up quickly from the contaminated seat and made his way to the kitchen where Paris was finishing off the tea.
“What’s up?” she said looking at his face which was still unbalanced from his sudden longing.
“I’ve confirmed the address for the place Stolid went to work in,” he said, “and I know which train station he went to.”
“Are we going to have a trip to Scotland?” Paris said excitedly.
“Well I think so. Though I should probably try and phone him up first. We might find he’s just fallen in love, or more likely into a lethargy and forgotten his oldest friends. It would be annoying to go all that way just to have him sheepishly apologising. And then we need to find out what’s happening here. I mean why does this house look as though it was deserted this morning, not three months ago?”
“There would have been milk in the fridge if Stolid had been there this morning,” Paris smiled. “You know how he likes his tea.”
Timonthy knew and this image rescued him from the naked Adonis he had in his head. Fully clothed and hunched over a tea cup, he could withstand that image of Stolid.
“Let’s have a look around here for a bit more and perhaps talk to the neighbours,” Timonthy said. “Then we’ll go and get some lunch before we decide what to do next.”
They finished their tea sitting in the glass enclosed dining section of the kitchen, looking over the view.
“This is such a beautiful house,” Paris said. “I can understand why Johnathon wanted to live here instead of his house in London.”
“Well he never liked that place. I think there were too many memories there for him. Still, I don’t think Stolid gave him a choice. He always refused to live anywhere other than in his own house. He said that if Johnathon ever got bored of him at least he’d always have somewhere to live.”
“I didn’t know it was his,” Paris admitted. “I got the impression that he never had much money.”
“Well, just enough to buy this place at any rate, in a rackety state. I don’t know who paid for doing it up and adding this section. I think it was finished when you were about seven. Do you remember the first time we visited? They hadn’t altered it at all then. You slept with your mother and I slept in the only upstairs room? It had been prepared for you but your mother was worried in case there was a fire or you were scared in the night and no-one knew. I slept under a pink duvet with a fairy on it and my feet dangled over the edge of the bed.”
She chuckled. “I would have liked to have seen that but no, I don’t really remember it.”
“It has been greatly improved: although the garden was always generous and the view impressive.”
“I think my first memory was of the Christmas we spent here. I’m sure the house was like this then. I got a skateboard and you had taken me early out on Boxing Day to try it out. We were going to the sea front but got diverted. I came back all hot and excited, you were still climbing the hill, couldn’t find my mother so I rushed upstairs to tell Uncle Johnathon all about it.”
“I remember,” he joined in. “You came back thoughtful.”
“I was thoughtful. When I burst into their room they were practising rugby: that’s what they told me and I was trying to work out why they had developed a sudden interest in the game after years of not allowing it on the television. Now I think about it, I believe they were having sex,” she blushed a deep shade of red. “That was very stupid of me but they were convincing.”
“You were a child. It wasn’t stupid at all. Perhaps they should have been more considerate, although we had told them we were going to be out for a while.”
“You know, for ages what I was really worried about was they would put the rugby on the telly and we’d all have to watch it.”
Timonthy shook his head in amusement, finished his tea and began to take a look around.
“I’ll look upstairs and you do downstairs. Anything that looks out of the ordinary, we need to know about.”
“He won’t mind, will he Timonthy?” Paris hesitated. “It seems a massive invasion of privacy.”
“I think that he would be grateful that you cared enough about his wellbeing to make the effort to investigate,” Timonthy said and he was sure he was right because that was how he would have felt. He also felt the ignoble thought, ‘what right to privacy does a man deserve when he has let a child see him having sex?’
Timonthy made his way slowly up the stairs. He remembered that small room which was all that had been upstairs the first time he stayed. He remembered lying uncomfortably in the bed that was too small for him hearing the clunking pipes from the dishwasher, hearing Lizzie talking quietly to Paris who must have woken as feared and that other quiet noise he did not want to hear: almost beyond the edge of hearing, only audible because he was dreading it. He was even imagining being there with them: between them. He scarcely believed he had thought that thought aloud even in his own head. And later the sound of people walking about and using the bathroom. .
At the top of the stairs he turned right to the room at the front of the house which had been his and Lizzie’s. He looked around quickly. There was hardly anything in it. The bed was bare and uninviting. There were a few pictures on the walls and a few ornaments but nothing personal at all. Then he looked at Paris’s room.
That pink fairy duvet cover had changed with the years but it was still obviously a young woman’s room. There were a few precious toys still there in the corner of the room, and even a few clothes which looked as if they might fit her still in the top drawer of the chest. Otherwise this room was empty too.