International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
met when I was sent to audit the stocktake at Centenary Furniture.
I was audit junior, Claire was a trainee sent to keep an eye on
me. It turned out it was my eyes on her most of the time. She
was all pastel shades and Broderie Anglais. Her dark brown hair
always seemed to have a little twist or curl peeking out. Her
face would break from deep concentration to the widest smile in
a moment. I didnt even notice her nose on the first day.
Some would call it patrician but I found it elegant, distinguished
in fact just bloody sexy.
audit, a poisoned chalice we both knew. If I saw anything I shouldnt,
shed be out of a job; if I didnt, Id be out of a job.
We enjoyed every minute. But business is business; she tipped me off
about some minor window dressing. I turned a blind eye to
some teeming and ladling because, she said, they were good
I asked her out for a drink and put it on my expenses. I thought she
was out of my league but we went out again. And after the job had finished
she called and it became a regular thing until one day she asked me
round to her parents for dinner.
No wonder Id thought she was out of my class. Her parents owned
the bloody company. I dressed up and not my work suit either, Claire
would have spotted that, but they made me feel right at home. Malcolm
took out an old soccer yearbook to nose through while we waited for
dinner. Maybe Claire had told him it was my passion. Footie and music,
Blue Monday and the Sky Blues. Footie crosses the generations better.
Malcolm had the same nose. He used it, called attention to it, taking
a mighty breath in before making a decision. Claires Mum, Jessica,
would tip her head questioningly in his direction, tasting the atmosphere,
before suggesting a move to the living room or offering a last glass
Claire had broken away from them, like a young bud bursting with the
irrepressible power of spring; she had her own flat in town, rented
from her own wages. We were in a taxi back to town when she suddenly
turned to me.
I can trust you Alex?
I wasnt sure whether it was a statement or a question. I looked
at her quizzically.
With your life. I said it ironically but I really meant
She stroked my cheek and her eyes sparkled.
Youre a special guy, Alex. Im going to introduce you
I leaned forward to kiss her but she turned to the driver.
Change of plan. Fender Street first please.
I was confused - and a little frustrated. I could almost taste that
kiss Id just missed. Claire had obviously just made a big decision
but I had no idea what it was all about.
Fender Street was close and she directed the car outside the local DVD
rental. I used the place myself but at this time of night it wasnt
the safest area in town. There was a down-and-out in the doorway, huddled
under a blanket.
Come on, Alex.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the taxi over to the shop.
Hey Jamie visitors.
The guy in the doorway looked up sleepily. He was unshaven, unkempt
and unclean, but then I suppose I would have been if I slept in a doorway.
From the desert of his face his nose thrust like the Great Pyramid at
Alex, my brother Jamie. Jamie Alex.
He half got up, suddenly awake, and stared at me intently. His eyes
were bright and full of intelligence, burning into my soul. I could
see Claire watching closely. Love me, love my brother. I took his hand
firmly and shook it.
Nice to meet you Jamie.
He took a deep, rasping breath, drinking the air into that enormous
nose, and then he smiled a sweet smile. He turned to Claire and gave
her a short embrace.
Perfect, Claire. Hell look after you.
I know it, Jamie
She handed him a bundle of notes, must have been a couple of hundred
at least, and with a lingering gaze she turned, took my hand and pulled
me back to the taxi.
In the back seat she took my head in her hands and gave me a long kiss.
Your brother, Claire, why is he
Hes not an addict if thats what you are thinking.
She sounded angry.
I could tell he wasnt on drugs. Ive met plenty, in the office
and on the streets. Coke is life. You can sense them a mile off. You
get a sense of disconnection, not this intenseness that Jamie had.
That is the other secret, Alex.
I love you, Claire. I dont care who knows it. I think it
every day. I want to be with you all the time. So trust me or dont
trust me but if I can help you I will.
The taxi stopped.
Come up, Alex. It was an order not a question.
Id picked her up here before but never been past the doorway.
I paid the cab and followed.
The flat was small but beautiful. Tasteful, not modern with all sharp
edges and clean lines, but minimalist all the same; a Kate Faulkner
bronze, a Jaqueline Marr oil, some fine photographs that I thought maybe
were her own. Contemporary quality worth a fortune and more than the
sum of its parts.
She sat perched on the edge of the sofa, her body language inviting
me to sit beside her.
I called him Sniff when we were young. He was the best. The best
brother, got the best grades, captain of the football team. He charmed
everybody and everybody loved him. Even Dad couldnt resist. And
here is why, Alex. Here is the big secret. Jamie smells everything.
He smells good luck, the right decisions, the best people. He smells
the way we feel and the way we think and he smells the future.
One day when he was sixteen and I was fourteen, we visited my
Grandpa. Jamie was sick the moment we walked through the door. Mum thought
it was a bug but an hour after we left he was fine. Grandpa died that
night and that was the start of it.
He got more sensitive. Can you imagine, Alex? If someone is going
to die in the next month he is violently sick, if its in the next
year he has abdominal migraines. There is a more than even chance that
one in every hundred people will die in the next year. If he is in a
house its a thousand times worse. He cant go indoors because
for Jamie the stench of death is everywhere. He has a caravan out in
the woods. During the night he comes here. I bring him stuff and everyday
I look in his eyes and wonder what he sees.
If it hadnt been Claire and if I hadnt seen those keen,
bright eyes in the doorway I wouldnt have believed it. I was shaken.
Are you the only one he sees, Claire?
He buys stuff at the 24/7. He nearly died when the police took
him in once, but when he concentrates he can still hold it together.
He can still be the boy everyone loves.
You and me, what he said, were okay then?
That doesnt just mean youre not about to drop dead,
Alex. Remember Jamie can sense your whole future, your destiny. He knew
your were a good, decent person with a great future.
We kissed then. I held her close, closer than ever before, because I
saw Jamies face as she turned away, his pain and misery, charging
me to make her happy in the time she has left. And I will, right to
© Duncan Dicks November 2006
Lifestories in Dreamscapes
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.