Friday, August 03, 2007

Catching Up.

I have been invited to join Samuel on one of his reconnaissance days out. He’s still watching the candlelighters in their gradual examination of the River Loxley. And still nothing of interest has happened there. It’s been two weeks since Samuel last came to the house to let me know this. As seems to be his way, he apparently ceased to believe we existed in the meantime. The new month began anyway, bringing with it the abundance of wealth that constitutes Angela’s rent and my own minimum wage. The temptation always is to spend it all as soon as it comes in, but now Norman safeguards the money until everything is paid for. That way I don’t go bankrupt, or die of alcohol poisoning.

It was at first a relief for Samuel not to turn up, and then it became a relief not to expect him. Even given the situations that he puts himself in, I never expect him to come to harm. I just accept that he becomes distracted. I checked with Angela and Norman that he hadn’t called while I was out or at work. None of us could be certain that he hadn’t left town again, as suddenly as he’d turned up. Angela suggested that I go and see him myself, rather than waiting.

I said: “I don’t want to start hanging around the river like a weirdo. It’ll look odd.” Who to? “To anybody that sees me. What if the candlelighters know who I am? Then I’m making trouble for myself again. What reason do I have to go there?”

People do just go there for walks it’s true. But they tend to be healthy types, or families. Besides which, Angela meant to go and see Samuel at his home.
“I don’t know where he lives do you?”
“No.” She can be infuriatingly brief sometimes. “But then I don’t have any reason to see him.”
“Nor do I.”
“You don’t know that until you see him.” I prefer it when she’s infuriatingly brief.

Thankfully Norman has, in the course of being polite, as he put it, talked to Samuel about where he’s staying now. This wasn’t as specific as an actual address, more in the way of a whereabouts, round the corner from the church, which was enough to get me to the door on the third attempt.

I don’t know if you know Crookes – some instinct tells me that you do – but it’s a hell of a walk from Hillsborough if you don’t have the patience to wait for a 52. I walked past the house where Miranda lived, that Fuzz and I burgled, but it still looks unoccupied to judge by the garden. Typically, I chose the hottest day of the year so far, and I got burned red for my trouble, but I eventually reached the summit of Bole Hill and then Crookes, in all its seaside glory, so many miles from the sea.

As I say, I found the right house at the third attempt – or at least I found the next door neighbour. Samuel, naturally enough, was down by the river when I called, but the woman next door recognised the description of his leather coat and permanent sunglasses. When he came home I’d had three afternoon pints and the sun was making me drowsy, so I lay on his sofa watching Coronation Street while he fetched me water and fed his dog. It took me a while to notice the obvious.
“Why’ve you got a TV?”
“It isn’t mine.” Samuel called from the kitchen.
“And why have you got posters on the wall? Since when do you like the Blues Brothers?”
“They’re not mine either.”
“Whose are they?”
“What flatmates?”
“Where are they then?”
“At home.”
This confused me for a bit.
“You mean they went home for the summer?”
“That’s correct.”
“So you’ve got the whole place to yourself?”
“Also correct.”
“So why is it such a hole?”

I realise now that I’d only ever seen how Samuel lived with Norman to clean up after him. One modern advance he’s managed to grasp is fast food, which I suppose must be a blessing, but specifically Pizza Hut, which isn’t even the nicest pizza you can get. I’m yet to convince him of this.

When he came back into the room I asked him: “So what’s the latest, with the tales from the riverbank?”
“I’ve no evidence to suggest that they mean you harm. If that’s what you’re asking.”
Was that what I was asking? Maybe it was and I didn’t realise. The main gist of his reply though was that I’d offended him somehow, so when he asked me to join him an his next trip down, I could only postpone as far as my next day off. And then a silence crept out of our agreement.

“So, how come you’re living here?”
“It’s close to the candlelighters. They’re only round the corner.”
“No, I meant, in this house. With students.”
“They had a room free. It’s cheap.”
“Aren’t they annoying?”
“They can be. They have very little respect for property.”
“Oh. Isn’t it odd, for there to be a room this late in the year?”
“One of the previous tenants went insane. The pressure of his studies by all accounts. His parents came to take him home.”
“Oh. Lucky break.”