The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
first time we met Kate and had some indication of her effect on
my brother Ronalds well-ordered life was on a Sunday evening
in late January.
wife Cynthia and I had gone to Ronalds house for our monthly
dinner, being careful to arrive precisely at six as he was a stickler
for punctuality. He greeted us at the door, as always impeccably
dressed in a blue blazer but this time wearing a red, instead
of his usual dark blue, tie.
He seemed a little
nervous, which I thought odd, but then he led us into his library where
a stunningly beautiful girl in a red dress was looking over some books.
This was Kate. I knew Ronald had taken on someone to finally go
over his extensive collection of old volumes, but assumed it would be
a graduate student, thin, pale, with thick glasses, not a woman who
might have just stepped out of a magazine ad.
Ive asked Kate to join us for dinner, said Ronald,
after the proper introductions were made. So that explained the
nervousness, I thought. I heard a meow and Ronalds cat Emerson
stepped out from behind a pile of books. Kate tried to pick him up but
he evaded her and disappeared somewhere in the shadows of the library.
We then went in to dinner.
At this point, perhaps I should explain a little about Ronalds,
and my, circumstances. Our father, a lawyer and then a judge,
had left each of us a small trust fund. Ronald had joined a brokerage
house, made some wise investments, and retired early to his country
house in Connecticut quite a rich man. I didnt have
Ronalds business sense, as Cynthia constantly reminded me, and
was now teaching at a small college two towns from where he resided.
Id also married and we had two children, a boy and a girl, 12
and 15 years old.
Ronald had never married and until now appeared to have settled down
into the comfortable, well-ordered life of a well-to-do country bachelor.
He attended concerts, plays and art shows. He traveled to
Europe once a year. He had the monthly dinner with us and
a weekly squash game with me. He tended to his investments and
collected his books.
During dinner it came out that Kate had answered Ronalds ad for
someone to help catalogue his books. Shes been
of inestimable help to me, said Ronald. Were
making great progress.
Under Cynthias questioning, Kate revealed that shed graduated
college a few years ago with a degree in literature, but she was rather
evasive as to what shed been doing in that time. Oh,
this and that, she said. I like to dabble in
different things. Life should be an adventure, dont
Kate has had quite an interesting life, put in Ronald.
Do you know, last year this time she was in Tibet.
I didnt know and would have liked to learn more about this, but
evidently this was not to be as Ronald continued on, singing Kates
praises while she in her turn told us how much she was learning under
his guidance. It was quite a mutual admiration society.
As we were leaving, Ronald casually remarked that he wouldnt be
able to make our squash game the next week as he and Kate were flying
to Mexico City to attend the bull fights.
The bull fights!
Can you imagine? said Kate. Ronald
told me hed never been to one so of course I arranged a trip right
But to Mexico? said Cynthia. Arent
there many kidnappings there? And the police are totally
Kate has seen to everything, said Ronald.
Well be perfectly safe.
Driving back, Cynthia said, That girl means no good.
Perhaps a bit of adventure will be good for Ronald.
Oh, dont you see? Shes after him,
and his money, the money that by rights should go to our children.
You have to talk to him.
All right, when he returns from Mexico.
If he returns.
In the event, Ronald returned unscathed and I invited him to lunch at
my college, where he enthusiastically told me more about bulls and bull-fighting
than I would ever want to know. Now I know why Hemingway
admired matadors so much, he said.
Hemingway? I didnt know youd read
Not until recently. He came to a sad end but
before that what a life he had.
I hope you dont intend to emulate him.
Hardly, but Kate has made me see what a dull existence
Ive been leading. Its time I got out into the
world and really start living.
This remark gave me the opening Id be waiting for.
About Kate, dont you think youve gone a little overboard
What do you mean?
Well, shes, uh, young, and after all you hardly
Are you trying to say, isnt she an adventuress
and isnt she leading me about by the nose. I can assure
you she isnt. By the way, were going skiing
in Vermont next week.
I wont go into what Cynthia had to say when I reported this last
bit to her. Suffice it to note she was convinced Kate had
lured Ronald to the slopes to kill him or else so that hed be
injured and after shed nursed him back to health hed marry
The phone call from Ronald came at dinner time. Yes, he
was in the hospital but it was nothing serious and I neednt worry
about him. No, I shouldnt come to visit him.
They were keeping him overnight just to be sure, then Kate would drive
him back. Hed just called to let me know he wouldnt
be up to playing squash the next week.
When I reported this to Cynthia, whod been hovering about, trying
to overhear our conversation, she said, I knew it.
You mean are such fools. Shell marry him and there
goes our childrens inheritance.
But there was no hasty marriage, although Ronald seemed to be going
about everywhere with Kate, while his books remained neglected.
She took him to what passed for nightclubs in our area; he took dance
lessons so that he could dance with her; they went to a rock concert
at the college. Moreover, he bought her presents: a bracelet,
earrings, a necklace, and clothes, a new coat, any number of dresses.
I had to admit that Cynthia seemed to be right: Ronald was behaving
like a silly old man with this young girl who was allegedly his assistant
but was undoubtedly much more.
Then came the news, in early summer, that they were going off to Africa
on safari. Kate, as always, made the arrangements.
She somehow knew a man who was reputed to be a top hunter.
Ronald and I had what had become by now our usual discussion before
Are you sure you want to do this? I asked.
Theres always the chance of being injured, or even killed,
by some wild animal. Then theres the chance of getting
some disease, tse tse flies and all that.
I appreciate your concern, but its perfectly safe.
Kates friend Jim has led dozens of safaris. Of course
theres an element of danger but thats what makes it so exciting.
Cynthia and I also had our usual discussion. This
is going to be it, she said. Shes already
had him put her in his will. Now her hunter friend is going to
kill him, just like in that Hemingway story, and shell get everything.
We dont know that, I cautioned, thinking that
Hemingway had popped up again in Ronalds new life-style.
Im sure hell be fine.
Just you wait and see, said Cynthia darkly.
Ronald sent me a letter when they arrived in Africa, then there was
no further communication. Several weeks later, Cynthia saw
a brief item in our local newspaper. Prominent citizen Ronald
A... had been shot and severely wounded in an accident while on safari.
I immediately called the editor, but he told me hed picked up
the item from a Reuters bulletin and knew nothing more.
After that, I could only wait. I didnt even know what country
Ronald was in.
I neednt say that Cynthia had her own ideas as to what had happened.
Kates hunter had shot Ronald, who now lay on his deathbed in some
primitive jungle hospital. When he was gone, Kate would
inherit his fortune. In the end, it was all my fault.
Somehow I should have prevented this from happening.
The call from Ronald came two weeks later. Hed arrived
home the day before. Yes, hed been shot but the reports
of his wound had been exaggerated. The bone in his left
arm had been shattered and would take some time to heal.
Otherwise, he was fine. Yes, hed like me to come over,
say, in a few days. No, I shouldnt bring Cynthia.
Kate? Hed tell me all about it when I came.
A middle-aged woman in nurses uniform greeted me at the door and
led me inside. Ronald was seated in a large comfortable
chair in his library, his left arm in a sling. In his right
hand he held a drink. His cat Emerson was on his lap.
He asked me to sit down and dismissed the nurse. When shed
left, he said, Mrs. Grimsby. Shes taken good
care of me. Can I offer you a drink?
I nodded and, while he poured, looked at Ronald. Aside from
having his arm in a sling, he looked tanned and fit. Youve
had us pretty worried, I said.
Sorry about that. The wound wasnt that bad,
but conditions in the hospital werent the best and it became infected.
So, in that respect, Cynthia had been right. It was
a little touchy for a while but they flew in some antibiotics and after
that it was fine.
So Kates hunter shot you?
He was shooting at a lion who was coming toward me.
Yes, just like in that Hemingway story. Fortunately, his
aim was a little better, or maybe worse, depending on how you like to
view it. At any rate, I wasnt killed, only wounded,
and he did stop the lion.
Well, was it an accident?
Thats hard to tell. But the man
did save my life so I thought it best not to look too closely into it.
And Kate? Cynthia is convinced youd put
her in your will and if youd, er, expired, she would have gotten
Hardly all, but I admit I may have lost my head a little
So, where is she now?
After the, uh, incident, we had a little talk.
When I returned home, she went to Paris. I dont have
to tell you she knows many people there. Im sure shell
land on her feet.
Im sure she will. So shes
out of your life?
She is. I dont think Id ever fully
admit her into my life. Emerson here never did take to her
and hes a pretty good judge of character.
And now what? Will you be going off to
climb Everest next?
Ronald smiled. No, I dont think so.
He glanced at the many volumes on the librarys bookshelves.
I plan to complete the task of cataloging my books.
Will you advertise for an assistant?
I already have and Ive found the perfect one, a graduate
student, pale, thin, thick glasses, and male.
He sounds ideal. I do have one question
about Kate, if, uh, I might ask. Did you, uh, . . .
Ronald smiled. Kate is a beautiful young woman.
Ill let you draw your own conclusions. She did bring
a lot to my life. Thats something else Id like
to talk to you about. Let me refresh your drink.
We talked for an hour or so. When I returned home I of course
had to give Cynthia a full report. Well, Im
glad that madness is over, she said. I hope
he goes back to his normal life.
Im sure he will. But there is one more thing,
as soon as Ronalds arm is healed were going white-water
rafting in Colorado.
Yes. Ronald has persuaded me I need a little
adventure in my life, a taste of the outdoors before I go back into
Men. I give up, said Cynthia, as she flounced
out of the room.
© Martin Green 15 July 2005
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