Home Visit

I shaved and showered for John’s coming.

Jacyntha had sent an uncorrected version of the print-copy to Pam, cover designer, to do whatever to the front page and send onto the printer. I’ve corrected the misattribution to an archive other than mine three times now and was less incensed than last time, dealing with it as diplomatically as I could.

John phoned from the station he’d make his way to the flat. He wasn’t outside nor, letting himself in by the tradesman’s, on the balcony. He was outside, looking good, when I went down again. I had no reservation whatsoever about having sex.

He wasn’t going to eat the turkey stew I’d prepared because prison food but, there being nothing else he wanted and being a prisoner, he did and had a second bowlful with a glass and a bit of wine he reckoned wouldn’t register if he were tested for alcohol by the time he returned. He impressed upon me the cost of the train ticket, £68, and that he was in debt to pay for it. He used up all but 43p of my credit phoning his mother.

His face fell when from the bank I gave him the £15 he considers due him, though, as I pointed out, it isn’t, and that he wanted that day by hand and not sent by postal order. He wanted £30. “You didn’t say.” I withdrew £20, giving him that, and taking back 5. He also wanted the next fortnightly £15 brought forward to this coming Tuesday. He wouldn’t let me buy him a discount rail card, this time, not wanting to take advantage. “But taking advantage is what you do. £45 for sex, cheap at the price.” “Don’t say that!”

I bought £10 phone credit after seeing him off. On the way to the library I met Quentin being chugged and accompanied him to Prêt A Manger which doesn’t cater for gluten-freaks. We sat on a bench on The Green. Marijuana makes him paranoid. Magic mushrooms are hard to come by and only last four hours. “That’s something. You could have them for breakfast, lunch,” etc. “You are vegetarian.” I told him I’d felt attracted to somebody at a party and hadn’t had such feeling for years. Nor has he though he does have low-level attraction. “Oh yes; appraisal of attractiveness,” I conceded, “all the time, but not the feelings evoked by being attracted.”

I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep for worrying what to do about Jacyntha. The continual reversion to incorrect copy was too persistent to be anything other than deliberate I thought.

Jacyntha affected not to know where she was in the wrong, so I told her: in entitling a bogus archive of her devising the copyright.

John phoned to say he’d left the £20, rail ticket and prison licence on the shelf at the ticket booth when he’d had to buy a travel card because the collector wouldn’t let him through otherwise and he was panicking about not getting back in time. He therefore didn’t have the ticket to travel on from Victoria but transport police procured a dispensation paid for by the prison. He was half an hour late. Would I check at the station?

I couldn’t get my head round that. “It could happen to anyone,” I concluded to whoever I told, meaning it couldn’t. The money he’d easily extracted was easily lost because he hadn’t worked for it but at least it hadn’t occurred to him to do anything criminal to get out of the pickle he’d put himself in.

John phoned, asking flatly had I followed up on the lost money. “You’d have to go in yourself. They don’t hold on to money but post it on.” I asked why he hadn’t gone back to Richmond on the travel card. He didn’t want to be late. I asked had the transport police phoned Richmond. He offered nothing on that. I ascertained he couldn’t get off at Clapham Junction but had had to go to Victoria before going onto Clapham Junction to catch a train for Richmond. He asked did I have any viagra left. “Why!” “For my use,” he laughed. I didn’t think I had any. He said he was coming next Saturday. “How! How can you afford it?” He’d sell his radio he didn’t have any use for. It was too soon; I didn’t want him coming.

I woke up from a dream in which John was going physically to force me to do what he wanted but was saved by his collapsing on inhaling a gas which also affected everybody else in my room but, oddly, not me. To make sure he stayed unconscious while I made my getaway, I picked up something from behind me and hit him on the head. Outside, I looked up, satisfied at having escaped. I wasn’t anxious or afraid; it wasn’t a nightmare. I couldn’t get back to sleep from worrying: at Victoria he’d’ve known he needed a card. If he didn’t buy one he was deliberately risking travelling without one. It might’ve irked him that he had to buy a card for the journey back but wouldn’t have flustered him into losing £20 when he’d have the £10 note to pay for the card and would pocket the change. It’s unlikely the £20 he’d’ve folded and squirrelled away would be on the ledge of the ticket booth to be lost. If he’s contemplating visiting this Saturday he had that £20 to go towards paying off his debts on the prison bus to keep his credit good. I want my cds back now he can’t play them. They’re mine, not his he’s entitled to trade off.

[John was upset that I might be doubting his word and by letter elaborated convincingly on the pickle he’d got himself into by setting aside what would’ve got in the way of what he wanted, the fact his train ticket didn’t cover the return journey to Richmond and he didn’t have enough money to pay for a return from Victoria to Richmond. His account evoked laughter, especially when he discovers he’s lost his ticket, can’t get back to prison and is running about crying, involving transport police, station master et al.]

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About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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