Cuadrille had driven 3000 miles to be at this beach. 3000 miles, ten days, fifteen hamburgers, umpteen coffees and now he was here, burgerbound, overcaffeinated, sweating fear. Now came the wait. The sun shimmied behind the clouds, doing its dance of will-I-won’t-I. Waiting. He walked the boards, expecting nobody, and was surprised to see Chunky Gowing already here. Coming up the beach toward him. Bermuda shorts, bowler hat, briefcase.
“It’s been a while,” Chunky told him as he removed his sunglasses. “The terms remain, though. Are you ready?” Cuadrille nodded. He had come too far to not be ready now.
Uncle Lev fought for the republicans in Spain and he was at the Sidney street siege. At gatherings he used to say that when he put the bullet through Churchill’s hat, his mouth opened into a perfect o, his cigar fell into a puddle and one of the Scots guards said “holy fock!” After WW2 he vanished, and the family assumed he was in Israel under a new name. An investigator concluded that he had perished on board the Hakedosha in 1946. Then one day the phone rang.
“Charley boy! No, don’t speak. Have you got a crayon?”
At fifty Hopkins learned the cello. He had always been a drummer, never leaving the small town where he had been born. But he had moved three times in a year, each time to a smaller flat, and the impracticality of his kit combined with the onset of arthritis made up his mind for him.
He progressed rapidly, and soon mastered Munch’s concerto in D minor. But every evening his neighbour complained, asking if he were strangling a cat. Only when the insomnia returned to him did he begin to hear purring from within the spruce case in the hallway.
I may have been lax in explaining that anyone can do this, and the full instructions are here.
Each year Morgandorfer watched the fireworks on television. He had not been out on December 31 for five years. The first year he was glad of the quiet. The second year he tried to time watching Paris, Texas, so that it finished as the countdown began, but he had stopped to make coffee and ended up four minutes out. Since then he had played a game. He would count the blue fireworks, then the red. If the red scored more he would cut his wrists. If the blue won, he wouldn’t.
It was neck and neck when the doorbell rang.