The Web. Chapter 8

John is forced to face the fact that there is more going on in his life than he can handle.


CHAPTER 8

OXFORD

   The house was large and set back in a quiet garden. Malcolm looked at it and wondered just what he would find inside. Perhaps here would be the answer to the questions that he was asking. He mounted the steps, rang the bell, and waited.

   The door was answered by a man in his mid-sixties with thick white hair. A very handsome, aristocratic looking man, even in his old brown cardigan and worn corduroy trousers.
   He looked a little puzzled, as though he had been expecting someone else and then smiled and said; “You must be John Malcolm, he said to expect you. Come on in.” He led the way in to an impressive entrance hall and then backed up to close the door. “He’s not back yet. Some finance meeting. When you’re talking telephone numbers like he is these things tend to overrun. The sponsors want their money’s worth. He rang though. He won’t be long.” The man opened a door to his right. “You’ll be cosy in there. Would you like a cup of tea?”
   “No, no thanks.”
   “Well, you just sit yourself down. He really won’t be very long.”
   “Thank you.” If the man had offered to stay Malcolm would have accepted but he wouldn’t ask and as the door closed behind his host, he felt alone and quite frightened.
He put the manila envelope containing the hard copies of the original Italian work and the translation on a low elegant table and looked around for want of something else to do. It was a library with huge plush chairs and floor to ceiling book cases. Everything was oak, looked old and genuine. At least one of his early questions was answered, Suzanne did have the same taste in painting at home as he did in the office. A large Paul Beck print was displayed on a stand in front of a book case containing books on psychology.
   On another elegant small table, a group of photographs, silver framed, caught Malcolm’s eye. There were just three; the white-haired man who had let him in was the subject of one in posed chumminess with His Holiness the Pope, whilst at a slight angle to that was a picture of Suzanne in a black robe a mortar board on his head his arms around the shoulders of a very proud looking couple Malcolm assumed to be his parents and just in front of these two photographs was one of Suzanne and the white haired man. Malcolm remembered who he was. Lord I ‘Anson, Joshua I ‘Anson, multimillionaire, probably billionaire, did a lot for charity and the Catholic church, hence the photo with El Papa. He had been in the papers quite a lot with his peace efforts in Northern Ireland and other trouble spots.
   There was a knock on the door and I ‘Anson came in with delicate tea things on a silver tray. “I know you said you didn’t want one but…well he’s not back yet.”
Malcolm smiled. “Thanks.” He removed his envelope from the table and I ‘Anson put the tea tray down. “I was looking at your photographs.”
   “Oh, Julian’s the one for the photos. Sent off to the Catholic Herald or was it the Irish paper, I can’t remember any way, that one of me with His Holiness and Julie always says that whenever anyone sees it they ask; ‘Who’s that bloke with Joshua.” A thought seemed to strike him, and he stuck out his hand. “I’m believing my own publicity that everyone knows who I am. Joshua I ‘Anson.”
   Malcolm shook the offered hand and then I ‘Anson started to pour the tea.
   “Do you take milk and sugar?”
   “Milk, thanks. This is a beautiful room.”
   “Yes, very comfortable.”
   “Do you read all these books?”
   “When we get the chance. The psychological reference stuff is mostly Julian’s. I’m afraid the funnies are mine. I love a comedy.”
   “Something I was never any good at writing. My sense of humour is too childish. People just don’t find my jokes funny.”
   “I bet I would, I have a very childish sense of humour.”
   The front door was heard to open and then the door to the library opened and Suzanne came in. He looked as he had looked the last time Malcolm had seen him and he found it hard to think that blue jeans and a tweed jacket were really the clothes to wear to a finance meeting.
   Suzanne leant over I’ Anson and kissed his forehead. “Hi.”
   “Hello.”
   Suzanne went to a comfortable chair and sat down.
   “I’ll make m’self scarce, will I?”
   “Do you mind?”
   “Not at all. I dare say I’ll see you later Mr. Malcolm.”
   “Yes.”
   I’ Anson left them, and Suzanne undid his jacket and tie. “So, what’s happened?”
   Malcolm stood and took the original Italian document from the envelope. He took it to Suzanne.
   “Oh boy. My Italian is worse than my German and that’s pretty hopeless.”
   “I have a translation.”
   “Thank God for that.”
   “Because my Italian is none existent apart from ‘what time is the next train’ and ‘Where is the gentlemen’s lavatory.'”
   He handed the translation to Suzanne.
   “Thank you, “Suzanne said and put on a pair of rimless spectacles.
   “I wrote that.”
   “When?”
   “Some time during the night. I didn’t think to check the log.”
   “Are you sure that you wrote it? I mean someone couldn’t have been doing a little hacking.”
   “I wrote it.”
   “You ever written a children’s story before?”
   “That’s not the point,” Malcolm said and a little agitation crept into his voice.
   “No. It was kind of a facetious remark. I’m sorry.”
   “What’s happening to me Dr Suzanne?”
   “I’m not sure.”
   “Am I going insane?”
   “No.” He didn’t sound terribly sure. “I don’t think so. When you were a child did you ever experience any kind of sensory distortion especially of an auditory nature.”
   “Did I hear voices? Am I schizophrenic?”
   “I don’t think so.”
   “No, I don’t think so.”
   “Ever have an imaginary friend?”
   “No.”
   “Did you have a lot of real friends when you were a kid?”
   “Once I’d settled down in school, yes.”
   “Any you still keep up with?”
   “My agent, Cyril Livingstone.”
   “And how far do you two go back?”
   “Saint Peters’ Junior school, class of sixty-five. We were both new boys. He was odd because he was Jewish, I was odd because I had a limp. We stuck together.”
   “How did you get your limp?”
   “I don’t know.”
   “There’s too much you don’t know about yourself John.”
   “So, what do you suggest I do.”
   “I suggest you do what I suggested you do back in March, admit yourself to the clinic and let us regress you.”
   “And will that work?”
   “I don’t know, but I think it’s the best shot you have at getting to the bottom of this. It isn’t going to go away just because you want it to. You have to face whatever it is that’s locked up inside of you. You have to confront it John because that is the only way you can hope to deal with it.”
   “When do you want me in?”
   “Friday.”
   “O.K.”
   “Did you eat yet?”
   “Not since yesterday.”
   “You hungry?”
   “Yes.”
   “Well let’s go and see what, if anything, Mrs. Lindbergh has left to eat.”
   “Thank you.”
   “Don’t look so miserable.”
   “I feel like a prat.”
   “Why?”
   “Because I should have done this months ago.”
   “You’re doing it now, that’s what matters.”
   “But I mean why the hell did I agree to come to you if I couldn’t take your advice. I feel like I’ve just wasted time.”
   “And is that such an appalling thing to do?”
   “If I’d taken your advice in the first place I wouldn’t be… invading your private life now.”
   “I don’t consider this an invasion and Joshua’s too used to my bringing the job home in one form or another to be bothered by it. Please, don’t let’s worry about this, I am far too hungry.”

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