Thursday, September 11, 2008
The Truth is In Here
Harold looked at the saber and then back at me. “All right,” he said, dragging out the words as if they were pound coins from his wallet, “I suppose you ought to know the truth.”
“Truth is what a demon lives for,” I replied.* “Tell away.”
Harold pulled the letter from his inside pocket. That’s why I hadn’t found it when I’d rooted through his desk looking for it.. He opened it. “It’s a bill,” he said, “dated 1969. I never knew it was there until you gave it me. I mean, why would I know about it? I was three years old.
He withdrew a sheet of paper and pushed it across the table. “I should have told you,” he said, “but St. Marples’ gives me the willies ever since the day that bloke tried to kill mum.”
“You mum?” I couldn’t help the snort. “He was trying to kill you, Harold. He thought you were the antichrist.”
I opened the letter. It was indeed a bill. Harold owed “Thee soule off ane infant in exchange fore thee guardian off thee towere, plus fifteen shillings and sixpence p&p”
I looked up at his eyes. He was fiddling with the button on his cuff, such was his nervousness. “Don’t worry, Harold,” I said. “It’s got an invoice number. I can look up who sent it to you and get it all sorted out.”
His relief was palpable. “Would you?” he said. “I’d be ever so grateful.”
I nodded and tucked the bill away, wondering just how grateful he could be. I handed him my mug. “A fresh cup of tea would be nice,” I said.
*Not strictly true, but what’s a lie between friends?