Monday, March 13, 2006

There's a bullet in that sofa no surgeon has ever managed to extract.

There is an enemy within each of us, intoned the old gas mask man, lacing up his overshoes. I was so used to this little performance that even to call it from memory requires no effort at all. I can see him now-conjured- at the end of my bed.

He has just come back from shellacking the sunken gazebo, of course. And more than likely has stopped off to admire the view as he passed Stones on the way. He collects everything.

Or, at least, he did. But he'll always be alive to me. People would laugh at first, when he entered upon a party via the French windows, unannounced and unexpected, thinking, perhaps, that it was all a cod; one of their host's little jokes.

I'm thinking of a particular afternoon. Gin and tonics. Gramophone records. The whiff of sighing greenery from the conservatory. In he came. Did his dance.

Then fell to his knees before Kitty Smash (she was sitting on the old war settee). She took in the company with a circular look, inviting one and all to share her amusement. Which they did.

I remember she was wearing a purple satin affair that day. Full skirt. Very fetching, the way her underskirts held the dress slightly aloft as she sat there, smiling (even if her expression gradually gave way to something else) as the old gas mask man stuck the nozzle of his apparatus under her costume, and sniffed.

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